Today is National Hydration Day, a reminder that staying hydrated is especially important for laborers who work in hot conditions far away from air conditioning and refrigerators.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that over 4,000 U.S. workers (or 11 daily!) are seriously injured or die from heat stress every year. However, heat illness is 100% preventable with the right precautions, and staying properly hydrated is one of many ways employees can stay safe in the heat.
Hydrating may seem simple, but is drinking water still the best option? Do electrolyte-replacing beverages have benefits over water? What about energy drinks? Here are five tips to help workers stay hydrated from Magid:
1. Drink cool water rather than warm water. Drinking water while working in hot weather lowers heart rate, hydrates internal organs, and improves focus. Not only is cool water more appealing to drink, it also has more benefits over warm water such as preventing body temperatures from increasing to dangerous levels.
2. Give out beverages with additional nutritional and mineral benefits. Certain varieties of electrolyte-replacing beverages absorb into our bodies quicker than water, so choose electrolyte-replacing beverages after an hour of hard work in the heat over water. These beverages help replace salts or minerals we lose after an hour of exposure to high temperatures. Some products have twice the potassium with less sodium and calories than common sports drinks. (Sqwincher fits that bill and is available in liquid form, powder packs, and freezer pops, pictured left.) But remember that cool, accessible water is still an essential hydration option. Electrolyte-replacing drinks should never be the only choice.
3. Don’t rely solely on soda and energy drinks. Many sodas and energy drinks contain excessive amounts of sugar and caffeine. As a result of its diuretic properties, caffeine can even cause dehydration. While many workers love the taste of sugary energy drinks and sodas, cool water and electrolyte-replacing beverages are the superior options because they deliver all the benefits with no disadvantages.
4. Cold drink stations should be placed as close to an employee’s jobsite as possible. If drink stations are far from work areas, employees will neglect their hydration needs. Additionally, if the water available at the station is warm, hydration becomes even more unpalatable and unattractive. It may take more time and effort, but it’s vital to ensure cool liquids are accessible and available all day long.
Keep in mind workers can still experience heat stroke even if they’re hydrating. If your workers are over-exerting themselves on the job, hyperthermia can set in and put them at severe risk since their bodies aren’t dispelling heat as fast as they’re accumulating it. This is why utilizing as many cooling methods as possible is crucial to keep workers safe in the heat.
For more information, visit the Magid Safety Matters® Resource Center.
For an article on “Landscape Workwear To Help Keep Your Cool, click here.