Many areas in Pennsylvania experience high temperatures in the summer months. Although doctors advise people to minimize heat exposure in these months, many PA workers don’t have that option. Staying hydrated at work isn’t always as easy as it seems.
Making sure that workers are sufficiently hydrated is one of the most effective ways to protect them during the season of heat waves.
Heat Illness – Risk Factors
Workers should be aware of the various risk factors that could reduce their heat tolerance levels.
Risk factors that may contribute to heat illness include hot air and humidity, limited air circulation, indoor radiant heat (from hot manufacturing equipment and processes), heavy protective clothing, and dehydration (not drinking an adequate amount of fluid).
An average human being has more than 2.5 million sweat glands in their body. These glands become activated when the brain determines that the body requires cooling.
Importance of Hydration at Work
This causes the sweat to evaporate from the skin, enabling heat loss and cooling.
But when sweating occurs, the body also loses its water content and electrolytes (which include salts like sodium chloride and potassium).
In order to ensure the body functions well in this condition, it is important to drink enough water and maintain a good level of electrolytes. That’s why it becomes vital to keep hydrated in hot conditions or summer months. If an individual is dehydrated, they may soon begin to show signs of heat illness. Hydration at work is a simple way to prevent heat related illness and injury. When your employer provides a ‘water break’ take it and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
Recommendations from NIOSH
According to NIOSH, when a worker performs a moderate level of activities under moderate conditions, they should drink at least one cup of water at 15-20 minute intervals.
Workers should drink water frequently and should be advised to drink water before they become thirsty. That will help them maintain good hydration in hot conditions.
Eating salt-containing snacks in addition to regular meals at work can also help to replace electrolytes in the body, which may have been lost due to sweating.