Water makes up at least two-thirds of the body. We need to drink plenty of it to ensure that our body functions properly by keeping joints and eyes lubricated, the skin healthy and digestion functioning as it should.
Taking in sufficient water is extremely important during the hotter months, when water evaporates quickly from the skin. As water content of the body is reduced, it must be replaced, or workers' performance and quite possibly their health and safety will be affected.
Dehydration on the Job Site
Staying hydrated is one of the very best things any worker can do to stay healthy on the job. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking enough water is critical for the proper functioning of the human body; a dehydrated worker is likely to experience symptoms of stress and disorientation that can be life-threatening at work.
Drinking plenty of water while working outdoors on hot days is about more than just comfort. Dehydration puts strain on the heart, making it harder for blood to circulate, in addition to all the other physical exertion which can lead to serious health complications.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) advises that workers be reminded to drink water frequently during the workday to maintain adequate hydration, especially during especially hot days.
Having plenty of cool water within easy reach of workers who are doing physical labor, is imperative. Remind employees about the dangers of dehydration because there's nothing macho about working through the thirst. Why not make proper hydration a part of your toolbox talks each week? That weekly reminder could make all the difference.
Make sure workers can identify the symptoms of dehydration and assist fellow workers who might be experiencing them. Signs of dehydration are similar to symptoms of heat stress. They can include:
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Rashes or redness on the skin
- Rapid pulse
- Lower urine volume, yellowish or darker than usual
Workers who feel thirsty or are sweating profusely must drink water more frequently. They should never wait for severe symptoms before reacting. Rest, shade, and water, used at regular intervals, ensure a safe and productive workday.