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)

    Thermal stress, also known as heat stress, is one such environmental factor that can wreak havoc on employee health in nearly any workplace. And not just outdoor work sites! Establishing evidence-based heat stress protocols with the help of OEHS experts is an important first step in safeguarding both indoor and outdoor workers from the risks of heat stress.

    Workplaces at Greatest Risk

    Studies show that workers experiencing some form of heat stress do not perform their job as efficiently as workers who are not impacted by this form of heat exposure. In fact, one Australian study reported that approximately 1,214 workers surveyed were 35% less productive on days they indicated experiencing heat stress. The impact of occupational heat stress is far-reaching with no signs of slowing down. It is estimated that heat stress could bring down global productivity levels by the equivalent of 80 million full-time jobs by the year 2030.

    While heat stress commonly occurs in hot outdoor temperatures, there are many workplace situations that can lead to heat-related injuries, including:

    • High outdoor heat exposure
    • Poor ventilation
    • Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • Low accessibility to fluids
    • Heat stressors on the job such as high physical exertion, limited rest breaks, productivity or economic incentives that do not allow self-pacing (i.e., working at your own pace)
    • Poor personal physical fitness
    • Workers unacclimatized to heat

    Given these wide-ranging situations, it is easy to see how nearly any workplace can pose a certain level of risk from heat stress. However, the following industries are examples of environments that pose the greatest threat to worker health:

    • Agriculture
    • Construction
    • Oil & Gas
    • First responders/firefighters
    • Utility companies
    • Manufacturing plants
    • Postal workers (most OSHA-reported severe injuries)
    • Athletes (football lineman most susceptible to heat stress due to conditioning issues)

    How Heat Stress Affects Productivity

    Heat Stress and Productivity

    Numerous studies show how heat stress can have significant negative impacts on productivity. In fact, predicted global costs from lost worktime due to occupational heat stress are $2.4-$2.5 trillion in 2030 and up to 4% of GDP by 2100. With the continuous rise in extreme global temperatures due to climate change, the adverse effects of extreme heat on workers will progressively get worse. For example, the global costs associated with lost worktime due to heat were $280 billion USD in 1995 and had risen to $311 billion USD in 2010 (equivalent to 0.5% of GDP) and continue to rise.

    Know Your Employees’ Heat Stress Risks

    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.

    Establish Evidence-Based Heat Stress Management Guidelines Companywide

    The best way to protect workers from the real threat of heat stress year-round is to work with OEHS experts to evaluate the heat stress risks in your workplace. Based on their assessment, OEHS experts will recommend evidence-based strategies for minimizing these risks with all employees. For example, one study examining the benefits of working in shaded areas or altering work shifts found that moving a working shift 2 hours earlier to avoid heat stress reduced costs by 33%.

    Examples of Strategies in a Heat Stress Management Plan include:

    1) Heat Safety Education (on-boarding and annual training)

    2) Hydration Accessibility

    3) Heat Acclimatization

    4) Activity Modification (work-to-rest ratios) Dictated by the Environment

    5) Implementing Shade and Body Cooling Product Accessibility

    6) Emergency Policies and Procedures for Heat-Related Illnesses

    7) Physiological Monitoring

    How OEHS Professionals Can Help

    OEHS professionals can work with you to design a heat stress plan specific to your industry and workforce. From conducting a comprehensive workplace audit to surveying employees about the impact of heat stress on their health and performance, an OEHS expert can help you establish evidence-based protocols to reduce risks.

    The AIHA, the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety in the workplace and community, offers a consultants directory where employers can search for OEHS experts in their communities.