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Workplace hydration is the key

Published November 20, 2015 Author: servian

Do you know that once you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated? This summer temperatures will exceed 40ºC with the hottest part of the day around 3pm. How will you be looking out for the health and safety of your staff?

According to the University of Adelaide’s School of Public Health, workplace compensation claims tend to increase as the daytime temperature reaches 37.7ºC. Preventable injuries such as falls, poisoning due to chemical exposure, occupational burns and heat stroke all happen in warmer workplaces. The summer months will bring the hot weather and those without air conditioning or who work outside need to be prepared.

Employsure has some tips to assist employers and business owner on hydration and working in warmer temperatures.

Assess the situation

Ensure your staff have access to water. Easy access to water will encourage greater consumption and prevent dehydration. It is also imperative employers provide just as easy access to toilets. If the ratio of toilets to employees is too low or if the toilets are too far away from working stations for example, it will prohibit consumption of liquids which is a problem. Sometimes water is not enough and a drink with a higher concentration of salt and electrolyte is required.

Protection from heat and sun

Personal Protective Equipment should be worn to cover skin from direct sunlight if employees are working outside. The Cancer Council has estimated that 200 melanomas and 34,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are linked to the workplace. Hats, sunblock and sunglasses should always be warn. Frequent rest breaks can aid in regulating body temperature after exertion from working.

Training staff

All staff should be aware of the effects heat can have on their health and safety. By detailing exactly what dehydration is may assist:

The body’s core temperature is 37ºC and when external temperatures rise above this the body relies on evaporation to expel excess heat. To do this the body produces sweat which evaporates on the skin, cooling surface blood cells. The cooled blood then returns to the body’s core, lowering core body temperature. The most important part of the cycle is to replace bodily fluid.

Implement protection measures

Posters around your workplace to encourage hydration is a good start, however an example from Leighton Contractors Australia Pacific is their award winning heat stress management program, and they have not had a single heat stress related incident since commencing the program in July 2012. The program includes hydration training, toolbox talks and fluid consumption guidelines.

If you would like to discuss implementing measures in your workplace call Employsure today. Our work health and safety service can provide support on hydration and working in heat. A consultant can come to your workplace to assess the level of risk and advise on ways to prevent dehydration and heat related stress, call us today on 1300 651 415.

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