Emirates Global Aluminium, one of the largest industrial companies in the United Arab Emirates outside oil and gas has announced that the company is trialing wearable technology in its annual programme to prevent heat-related illness amongst industrial workers in the hot UAE summer.
This year, 50 volunteers working in EGA’s potlines, which are amongst the hottest parts of the company’s operations, are wearing devices to monitor critical health indicators including core body temperature, heart rate, and sweating rate.
Data is transmitted in real-time to supervisors and EGA’s occupational health team, with alerts to variations of potential concern. The use of the technology is expected to further improve the timely detection of the earliest signs of heat-related illness and speed intervention, the company said.
Heat-related illness is a hazard for anyone working outside in the summer months and can be fatal if left untreated. EGA’s industrial processes generate further heat and must operate continuously, meaning workers are on shift around the clock every day of the year.
“We have focused on preventing heat-related illness each summer for many years. Through the commitment of all our people to this important effort, we have significantly reduced the incidence and severity of heat-related illness at EGA and in 2020 we achieved zero cases. Wearable technology offers the prospect of zero cases every summer, and I am optimistic about this trial. While heat-related illness is a particular challenge working with industrial processes that generate heat, it is a hazard for people working outside across our country. I am looking forward to sharing the results of this trial widely and other lessons we have learned to the benefit of everyone contributing to the wellbeing of our society through outdoor work,” said Abdulnasser Bin Kalban, CEO of EGA.
EGA‘s ‘Beat the Heat’ programme is an intense, annual summer-long effort across operations, which starts with awareness programmes to build knowledge of heat-related illness and its early signs for individuals and those around them.
Employees undertake hydration tests before and during shifts, in addition to being required to take regular breaks and being given access to cooling showers. Cooling booths, drinking stations, icemakers, and portable air conditioning units in EGA’s operational areas help employees keep cool. UV protection and heat rash prevention cream are also available to help keep people comfortable in addition to reusable water bottles and access to electrolyte drinks, the company added.
In 2021 EGA recorded two cases of heat-related illness requiring treatment at the company’s on-site medical centres. In both cases, the employees received rehydration via intravenous drips and fully recovered within hours.