Arm Immersion Cooling System

An arm immersion cooling system is a portable heat stress prevention unit that allows users to immerse their hands and forearms to reduce body heat. 

Description:

Providing an arm immersion cooling system for workers at a cooling station is an administrative control that can help prevent health problems from heat and sun exposure.  This system consists of a trough for cool or cold water at or above waist-level for users to immerse their hands and forearms to reduce body heat.  There is a thermometer and a guide for how long to continue the immersion that is based on the temperature. Thus, the immersion cooling system enables workers to lower core temperature and potentially prevent the onset of heat-related illness.

Although there is no Federal OSHA standard specifically for working in high temperatures, the agency's general duty clause, which requires each employer to provide a safe and healthful workplace, can be applied to any hazardous work not covered by a specific standard.  This includes protecting workers from extreme heat. To do so, employers should establish a complete heat-related illness prevention program, including resources required to protect workers as well as plans for aiding workers suffering from a heat-related illness and dealing with medical emergencies. An arm immersion cooling system may be used in conjunction with a heat-related illness prevention program.
 
An arm immersion cooling system, such as First Line Technology's Immersion Cooling Equipment (ICE), stands 48 inches tall and 60 inches wide (Figure 1). 


Figure 1.  First Line Technology ICE 

The longetivity of immersion will be depedent on the temperature of the water in the trough.  Thus, ICE also provides a guide for temperature and immersion time for core temperature cooling (figure 2).


Figure 2.  Instructional guide printed on ICE for temperature and immersion time


Risks Addressed:

Heat-related illnesses are caused by working in high temperatures, high humidity and/or direct sun for an extended period of time. Thousands of outdoor workers suffer from heat-related illnesses each year. In addition, many workers die from heat induced illnesses each year. In 2010 alone, 30 workers died from heat stroke.
 
In hot environments, the body maintains a stable temperature by circulating blood to the skin and through sweating, both of which release excess heat. If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, the core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, concentrating on a task becomes difficult, irritability and sickness may occur, and an individual often loses the desire to drink water. Fainting and even death can occur if the person does not cool down (OSHA Fact Sheet).
 
Heat stress can lead to many different conditions, including, but not limited to, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, heat cramps, and/or heat rash. Prevention of heat stress in workers is important (CDC Heat Stress).

How Risks are Reduced:

The Immersion Cooling Equipment enables the user to rapidly cool his or her body. This is most effectively done when the user’s forearms and hands are fully submerged in ice water. Heat is transferred from the body to the ice and water in the system through convection and conduction. Using ICE optimizes the cooling effect and successfully lowers core temperature, which will also lower heart rate and blood pressure.

Depending on the size and surface area of the extremity immersed, a 2013 study has shown extremity cooling can lower body core temperature from 0.2 to 1.0oC in 10 minutes versus control conditions. Arm immersion up to the elbows resulted in reduced cardiovascular strain by lowering heart rate 10 to 25 beats per minute and increasing work tolerance 60% (DeGroot et al., 2013).


Additional Considerations:

In emergency situations where full immersion is necessary, the ICE can hold the weight of one adult.  This unit has a weight capacity of 600 pounds and can accomodate up to 6 users.
 
It is recommended users follow all manufacturer guidelines before using this equipment to ensure worker safety and compliance with applicable local, state or federal regulations.
 
Engineering controls are always superior to administrative controls and personal protective equipment, where it is feasible to directly control the hazard. Engineering solutions to consider, especially for low humidity conditions, include down-blast ventilation or fans to increase evaporative cooling, evaporative cooling units for rest stations or stationary work locations, and water misting or fogging for rest stations. Semi-portable or permanent air conditioning of vehicle cabs or rest locations may also be feasible, and will be more effective in high humidity conditions.
 
Employers should provide training to workers so they understand what heat stress is, how it affects their health and safety, and how it can be safely controlled.

Contributors:

Jean Christophe Le, MPH - CPWR The Center for Construction Research and Training


Hazards Addressed:

Availability

First Line Technology
To obtain information, visit Immersion Cooling Equipment (ICE) or contact 1-703-955-7510 info@firstlinetech.com

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.