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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
JUL 18, 2018
Chill Out: Keep Employees Cool with Vortex Cooling Vests
Cooling vests are specialty equipment designed to lower and/or stabilize body temperatures in order to make hot environments more bearable for employees. Vests are often used by construction workers, welders and other individuals exposed to hot working conditions.
This apparel may provide several benefits that increase productivity and reduce the possibility of heat-related injuries. Benefits of using cooling vests can include:
Cooler core body temperatures
Improved cardio efficiency
Improved post work physical recovery
Currently there are major five major types of cooling vests in the proven and testing phases of product development. All are commercially available from most major supply stores.
Evaporative cooling vests
The vest is submersed in water, wrung out and worn damp. The evaporation of moisture from the vest creates the cooling action. Cooling is normally enhanced by a cooling agent/crystals that increase the evaporation rate. This type of vest is inexpensive, but offers the least cooling effect.
Ice pack/gel pack chill vests
Ice pack/gel pack vests use removable cooling packs that can be placed in the refrigerator/freezer until “frozen,” then placed in pockets sewn in the vest. The packets ensure that the vest is cool to the touch and provide cooling for three to five hours.
Phase change vests
This particular vest utilizes features organic cooling materials, such as oils and fats, built into the vest. Similar to the ice pack/gel chill vests, it is cooled in a refrigerator or freezer. The organic materials remain flexible and cool very quickly. The packs can provide cooling effects up to 4 hours.
Using the Peltier effect, this electrical process creates a cool surface on one side of a semi-conductor and a heated surface on the opposite side. When used in conjunction with a vest, the semi-conductor can cool the inner surface of the vest and cool the wearer. The product requires batteries and is not widely available at this time.
Vortex cooling vests
Vortex cooling vests force compressed air into a Ranque-Hilsch Vortex Tube. The mechanical device separates compressed air into hot and cold air streams. Hot air exits one end of the tube, while cold air exits the other. The fabric captures the exiting cool air stream and funnels it into the vest. The vortex tube can cool the air funneled into the vest by 58 degrees. However, the major drawback of this product is that the compressed air must be supplied by a commercial grade compressor.
Ultimately, summer brings additional exposures to the various construction industries. In many areas of the country, temperatures and heat related exposures increase significantly. Cooling vests offer many options, price points and solutions to heat exposure. One may be the perfect fit for your employees.