Summer safety – staying hydrated at work

Summer safety – staying hydrated at work

  • Published on Tuesday 19 January, 2016
  • 2 min. read

As we approach the halfway point of summer and temperatures increase around the country, as does the risk of dehydration, especially in those undertaking physical work outdoors.

What is dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when water loss exceeds water intake. It’s usually caused by exercise or illness but it can also occur when workers are exposed to heat (or high temperatures) and manual labour (exercise).

In Australia, the summer conditions are extreme and dehydration is a real risk that you need to manage. Most people can tolerate a 3-4% decrease in body water without difficulty. A 5-8% decrease can cause fatigue and dizziness. Over 10% can cause physical and mental deterioration, accompanied by severe thirst. A decrease of more than 15-20% of the body water can be fatal.

What are the signs of dehydration?

How can dehydration be prevented?

  • Drink enough water to prevent thirst
  • Monitor fluid loss by checking the colour of urine
  • For short durations of exercise or manual labour (up to 60mins) drinking water is a good choice during and after
  • Any time you work or exercise in extreme heat or for more than an hour supplement water with drinks which contain electrolytes and 6-8% carbohydrates. This helps prevent low sodium (which could lead to serious complications)
  • Eat at least 5 cups of fruit and vegetables a day, these contain water and a very important ingredient – potassium
  • Avoid alcohol, it is dehydrating
  • Orange juice is high in potassium. Dilute juices 50/50 with water so that the drink is 6% carbohydrate (the same as a sports drink). This allows the electrolytes and water to quickly reach your organs and heart
  • For longer durations (more than 60mins), drink 200ml of fluid every 20 mins during exercise (manual labour)
  • Continue to drink fluids – 500ml to 1 litre after work
  • Drink 500ml of fluids 30mins before work
  • Track your fluid intake to make sure you are getting enough