We all understand the importance of the right PPE for the job. Most workers would never show up to their construction or industrial job without their gloves, hard hats, safety glasses, or fall protection. However, one hazard is often overlooked and can be even more dangerous since its effects can be gradual or come on suddenly without notice.
Heat stress affects many workers during the summer, and aside from the possibility of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke, working in hazardous environments or around heavy equipment makes the situation that much more dangerous. When you’re dehydrated, your judgment and reflexes suffer, increasing the likelihood of an accident.
Here are some important things to consider before you begin work each day.
According to the CDC, nearly half of all adults in the US have taken one or more prescription medications in the past 30 days. While these medications help address serious health concerns (like depression, cardiovascular health, and diabetes), they can also pose workplace safety risks caused by dehydration. This is a risk too often not recognized and left unaddressed. Many medications can cause further dehydration or even mask the symptoms of dehydration.
Did you have a few drinks last night? Do you drink coffee every morning? What about a coke with lunch? Many workers enjoy these beverages without a second thought, not knowing they can lead to dehydration. Drinks with alcohol, caffeine, and large amounts of sugar should be avoided when doing strenuous work or in hot environments.
Oxygen levels are lower at higher altitudes. Your body compensates for this by breathing more quickly and deeply. Not everyone realizes that we’re constantly losing some of our body’s water content by breathing it out as vapor. As our body works harder to take in oxygen at higher altitudes, we can lose as much as twice the amount of water we normally do.
Even if you’re just as strong and spry as your younger co-workers, you might still need to take extra care to prevent dehydration. As you get older, your body starts having a harder time retaining water. So, it might take a few more swigs to get to the same level of hydration. Second, the older you are, the less likely you are to feel thirsty, even when your body needs fluids. That means dehydration can set in before you even feel parched.
The best way to stave off the symptoms of heat stress is with proper hydration. Water alone is not enough to replenish what is being lost and what your body needs to remain functioning properly. Electrolyte-replacement products, like Sqwincher, replace the minerals that your body loses through sweating. Electrolytes play an important role in your body’s natural processes. Signs of an electrolyte imbalance include spasms, extreme thirst, lethargy, frequent urination, confusion, or nausea.
You work hard, but you also need to work smart. Ensure you’re functioning at your best and staying safe by keeping fluids on hand and monitoring your hydration and electrolyte levels.