Water Does the Body Good
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Construction Risks: Dehydration
We’re coming up on the official start of summer, as well as National Safety Month. One safety precaution that’s top of mind this time of year is dehydration. Staying hydrated is important to keep all body functions running smoothly. Since construction jobs are mostly outdoors and workers exert themselves physically, you’ll want to take extra precautions as summer heats up.
On average, adults lose almost 10 cups of water a day simply by doing everyday tasks such as sweating, breathing and going to the bathroom. Electrolytes are also lost. These minerals, which include sodium, potassium and calcium, maintain the balance of fluids in the body. When doing physical work, employees lose even more fluids and electrolytes.
How do you know if one of your construction workers is dehydrated? They’ll begin to experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Excessive thirst
- Sleepiness or tiredness
- Dry mouth
- Muscle weakness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
The best defense against dehydration is prevention. That sounds easy enough—consume lots of fluids and foods high in water such as fruits and vegetables—but the question as to how much fluid can be complex.
Unfortunately, determining appropriate water intake isn't an exact science, especially because so much depends on age, physical condition, activity level, location and body chemistry. The best overall approach is to consistently remind employees about the importance of staying hydrated. In hot weather, encourage workers to skip coffee or soda, and make water readily available.
Exertion is part of the job, but employees need to take care of themselves – it’s essential from a risk management, productivity and alertness standpoint. Allow frequent water breaks. Also, encourage employees to adjust their intake to match activity level and working conditions. If someone begins to feel symptoms of dehydration, don’t ignore it.
- Watch “How to Create a Safety Culture” Webinar Recording
- Safety Culture Performance Metrics Webinar Replay
- Construction Executive Magazine: Effectively Hiring and Training Summer Help
- Safety E-Book
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