Beta-Testers Needed for NEW AIHA Heat Stress App

We are pleased to announce the launch of the NEW AIHA Heat Stress App and request your help in open beta testing! The following instructions provide background information on the application, what you can expect as a tester, and how to access the test product.

What Is the AIHA Heat Stress Application?

The AIHA Heat Stress application is a mobile app (iPhone and Android) developed through a partnership by AIHA and East Carolina University intended for us in preventing heat related illnesses through recommended health measures for two specific user types. It is currently available for free download in the Google Play Android app store and via this link for iOS testing.

Our target users are:
1. Outdoor workers
2. Managers of outdoor workers

    The key technical differentiator for this application is its focus on an adjusted Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) calculation to inform risk and provided needed action steps. The WBGT calculation algorithm is the core mechanism powering our app's various functions.

    To understand the importance WBGT and its use in monitoring heat stress, we recommend reading Joseph G. Allen's recent Washington Post editorial, "We need to change the way we think about outdoor temperatures. The public should adopt the 'wet-bulb globe temperature.'"

    Learn More About AIHA's Heat Stress App

    What Is an Open Beta?

    A Beta launch is an early release of a product to a group of users with the intended purpose of testing and providing feedback. In our case, this is an OPEN Beta in the sense that the link and tool itself are not restricted to individual users, but rather accessible to all who have access to the Google Play app store or the iOS app link.

    We recommend anyone who fits the expected user criteria of an outdoor worker or the supervisor of outdoor workers test the app and provide feedback. AIHA's goal over the course of the Beta run is to continue making improvements, layer in new functionality, and resolve errors that may be reported to our team. Testers can expect to be notified whenever new functionality is deployed, or if there are any service outages due to our ongoing maintenance.

    Giving Our Team Feedback

    The primary goal of the Beta Launch is to gather feedback on the app experience through the lens of our expected users. This does not mean your feedback is not useful if you do not fill one of our two expected user roles. However, we ask that you do your best to put yourself in these user's shoes as you think through the app experience to inform your feedback.

    To streamline the feedback capture process, we have put together the following Google Form to capture your feedback. This form is entirely anonymous, does not require a Google account to access, and is intended to be the primary outlet by which we capture and review feedback.

    NOTE: WE PREFER TO RECEIVE ALL FEEDBACK THROUGH THIS FORM. If you are an Apple user, you may see a feedback function as part of TestFlight; however, considering that there is not a comparable function in Android, we would prefer if all feedback came in through our Google Form to standardize our information funnel.

    What Kind of Feedback Are We Looking for?

    We are looking for your input in four distinct categories:

    1. Generic Feedback: You feedback after using the app for the first time. We want to hear your initial impressions of the experience without prolonged use. We would greatly appreciate it if you would make a submission for generic feedback within the first few days of accessing the app; however, if there is something in the future you would like to alert us to that does not seem to fit the other categories, this is the place to do it.
    2. Defect Reporting: Please report any defects you experience when testing the application. These can be bugs, errors, or any other technical difficulties that make the app experience less enjoyable. Please note our known defect section below for more information.
    3. Enhancement Requests: Any and all recommendations to enhance the existing app functions.
    4. Feature Requests: Net new functionality you believe will add to the value given to our users.

    We review feedback daily, and while we cannot guarantee all feedback will be addressed or prioritized, we can guarantee all of it will be reviewed.

    Known Defects in Our Current Application

    Typically, app developers launch Beta tests when core app functionality is complete while still rooting out defects that arise as a normal part of app development. That said, we have a known deficiency at the start of our Beta test that is worth noting:

    1. We are currently experiencing some issues with the Locations Service leading to an inability to search for specific cities in Asia and Africa. Please submit a defect in our feedback form if you run into any issues finding a particular location as this will help our conversations with the Locations Services provider.
    2. An error with TestFlight (explained in the "How to Access the Application section below") that will require following the app link twice to download.
    How to Access the Beta Application

    To access the Beta of the Heat Stress Application on Android please click ANDROID APP DOWNLOAD LINK.

    To access the Beta of the Heat Stress Application on iPhone please click iOS APP DOWNLOAD LINK.
    (Note that this app variant will require you to download Apple's TestFlight application first, which is a tool for distributing apps that are not yet publicly listed on the app store)

    While every worker’s personal risk is different, the common denominator for all workers is that heat stress can strike nearly anyone in outdoor – and indoor – environments. Knowing the early warning signs of heat-related illness and ways to prevent it are important to staying safe and healthy no matter where you work.

    Are You at Risk for Heat Stress Health Risks on the Job?

    Nearly any workplace can present heat stress health risks for workers. Some workplace situations are obvious, such as a construction worker building homes in the sweltering summer heat; other workplaces are not as obvious, such as factories with poor ventilation that create a potentially hazardous situation. Occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) experts have identified the following industries as examples of work environments that pose the greatest heat stress risks for workers:

    • Agriculture
    • Construction
    • Oil & Gas
    • First responders/firefighters
    • Utility companies
    • Manufacturing plants
    • Postal workers (Most OSHA-reported severe injuries)

    It is also important to recognize the most common misconceptions about heat stress to fully understand your personal risk.

    How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stress on the Job

    Heat Stress at Work

    Research has shown that in the United States alone, more than 700 heat-related fatalities occur on average per year, making exposure from environmental heat sources the country’s leading cause of weather-related deaths. Another analysis of the top causes of exertional injuries and fatalities examining OSHA data among laborers in the U.S. found that heat-related injuries accounted for 91.9% of the exertional injuries reported in OSHA’s Severe Injury Report database from 2015-2020.

    So how can you protect yourself from heat stress on the job? OEHS experts offer these evidence-based tips:

    • Hydrate
    • Seek shade
    • Rest with adequate breaks
    • Use body cooling products
    • Follow company-based guidelines
    • Utilize environmental monitoring tools
    • Self-pacing during work
    • Slowly acclimatize to work environment in the heat

    Understand Your Company’s Written Heat Stress Management Plan/Emergency Action Plan for Exertional Heat Stroke – and Practice It

    Your worksite should have a comprehensive heat stress management plan to prevent heat-related illnesses and improve worker productivity. It is important for you to know, and to practice, the written policies and procedures. Examples of strategies in a heat stress management plan would include environmental monitoring (Wet bulb globe temperature), seeking shade, activity modifications or work-to-rest ratios, and body cooling accessibility. We know that not all prevention plans are fail-proof, and it is important to be aware of what to do if someone suffers from a heat illness. Make sure to understand your emergency procedures and know what your role would be in the event of a heat-related emergency.

    Pace Yourself and Acclimate to Your Work Environment

    Signs of Heat STress

    Those who are working at higher physical workloads for prolonged periods of time are more susceptible to heat-related injuries and illnesses. It is important to pace yourself to ensure you take adequate rest breaks during your work shift. If you are new or returning from a prolonged work absence (at least 2 weeks), you should slowly and progressively adapt to your work environment again. This will allow you to achieve adaptations that will help you tolerate working in the heat. This process is called heat acclimation or heat acclimatization.

    Know Your Personal Risk Factors

    There are multiple personal risk factors that can increase your risk of heat-related injuries or illnesses. Some examples include:

    • Sedentary Lifestyle (no physical fitness level)
    • Previous heat illness
    • Type 1 and 2 Diabetes 
    • Hypertension
    • Heart Disease
    • Kidney Disease
    • Older Age
    • Dehydration
    • Medications that affect thermoregulation, central nervous system function, sodium balance
    • Obesity
    • Poor sleep quantity and quality
    • Illness (i.e., respiratory, infection, etc.)

    If you arrive at work with the following symptoms or conditions, you are at greater risk of heat-related illness:

    • Dehydration
    • Lack of sleep
    • Fatigue or lack of recovery from previous day
    • Gastrointestinal discomfort
    • Not recently eaten
    • Psychological stress

    Know Your Fluid Needs

    Heat Stress and Fluids

    Everyone’s fluid needs are unique and dependent on individual characteristics (i.e., sweat rate, physical work intensity, work duration, and fluid accessibility).

    An easy way to understand your fluid needs would be by calculating your sweat rate. Severe changes in hydration can be calculated by the difference in pre- and post-physical activity body weight. For example, if a worker steps on the scale before the work shift and steps on the scale again following the work shift (or break), he or she will be able to calculate how many kilograms of body water was lost due to sweating. They should step on the scale immediately following activity as fluid intake and urine/fecal losses will alter this measure. One kilogram of body weight lost (or gained) equates to one liter of fluid. The greater the difference between pre- and post-values, the greater the level of dehydration. The level of dehydration can be described as a percent of the pre-body weight value (percent of body weight lost = pre-weight/post-weight).

    Example of Body Weight Loss Calculations

    72.90 kg before first rest break
    71.80 kg after first rest break

    72.90-71.80kg= 1.1kg = 1.1 liters lost
    72.90/71.80kg = 1.01% body weight lost

    Pound (lbs.) to kilogram (kg) conversion: 1 lb./2.2 kg = X kg

    Remember, this information will only tell you what fluids you’ve lost during work and need to be replaced. It will NOT tell you your current hydration status.

    Here are simple ways to determine your hydration status:

    1. Assess your urine color

    Pale yellow or “straw-colored” urine typically indicates that you are adequately hydrated. The darker the urine, the more at risk you are for dehydration.

    How to Use a Urine Color Chart

    1,2,3Well hydrated
    4Normally hydrated or slightly dehydrated
    5,6You are dehydrated
    7,8You are extremely dehydrated

    2. Assess your Urine Output

    More urine is typically produced when adequately hydrated and less urine is produced when dehydrated. Therefore, a reduction in daily urine frequency (how often you urinate) may be an indicator of dehydration. Urinating five times in a 24-hour period typically indicates you are adequately hydrated.

    3. Pay Attention to Thirst

    When in a dehydrated state and body water content is low, fluid regulatory mechanisms in the body will initiate sensation of thirst as a signal to consume more fluids. If you are thirsty, you are ALREADY dehydrated! It is important to note that the absence of thirst does not indicate the absence of dehydration.

    Know the Signs and Symptoms of Exertional Heat Stroke

    External Heat Stress

    Exertional heat stroke is a serious medical condition caused by overheating of the body that requires immediate medical attention. OEHS experts share the following symptoms that are warning signs of exertional heat stroke:

    • Body temperature of 104° or higher
    • Confusion, agitation, irritability, disorientation, delirium
    • Slurred speech or staggering
    • Seizures, coma
    • Sweaty skin or dry, hot skin
    • Headache
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    • Muscle weakness or cramps

    When to Seek Help

    Studies show that more than 700 heat-related fatalities occur on average every year in the U.S., making environmental heat exposure the leading cause of deaths due to weather. That’s why it’s important to seek help if you or a co-worker experience any of the symptoms of exertional heat illness.

    Recognition and Treatment of Heat-Related Illnesses

    Heat Syncope

    • Fainting episode, normal body temperatures
    • Signs and Symptoms: dizziness, weakness, tunnel vision, decreased or weak pulse, pale or sweaty skin, loss of consciousness
    • Treatment: move patient to shade, sit or lie down patient when symptoms occur, monitor vital signs, elevate legs to promote blood returning to heart, rehydrate

    Exercise-induced Muscle Cramps

    • Painful, involuntary muscle spasms (usually occurring in legs) in the heat
    • Prevention/Treatment: adequate fluid and electrolyte replacement, stretching of the muscle, rest

    Exertional Heat Exhaustion (MOST COMMON)

    • Signs and Symptoms: fatigue, nausea, fainting, weakness, vomiting, dizziness, pale, chills, diarrhea, irritability, headache, decreased muscle coordination
    • Core temperature: usually between 102°-105°F
    • Treatment: move to shaded area, cool patient (ice bags, ice towels, cooling vests, etc.), remove excess clothing, elevate legs to promote venous return, provide fluids and rehydrate

    Exertional Heat Stroke (MEDICAL EMERGENCY)

    The two main diagnostic criteria for EHS are:

    • Core temperature greater than 104°-105°F (or 40°-40.5°C)
    • Central nervous system dysfunction (altered consciousness)

    If someone exhibits signs of exertional heat stroke, this is a medical emergency and medical professionals should be contacted immediately. This can include calling an on-site medical professional and calling 911.

    Treatment: Aggressive, whole-body cooling with Cold Water Immersion (CWI). Until a medical professional is present, the individual must be aggressively cooled with water and ice to reduce their core body temperature. If core body temperature is NOT down to normal values within 30 minutes, they are at significant risk of long-term or permanent complications or death.

    How to Talk to Your Employer About Heat Stress

    Limiting heat stress in the workplace is beneficial not only to employees, but employers as well. Numerous studies show that productivity suffers when workers’ health is compromised by heat stress. If you feel that your working conditions are contributing to experiencing heat stress on the job, please talk to your supervisor about your concerns. Research confirms that implementing sound heat stress prevention strategies can both safeguard employee health and improve productivity:

    • Studies estimated that when workers were performing work under the shade, there were 6- and 10-fold (respectively) increases in productivity.
    • One study found that moving a working shift 2 hours earlier to avoid heat stress reduced costs by 33%.
    • One multi-country study showed that workers picked 63% more crop when provided a heat stress prevention strategy (use of mechanical cart) compared to “business as usual”.