Do you manage a team at a worksite outdoors? Do your onsite hydration options not work when workers are offsite?
Here’s what you need to know about keeping your workforce hydrated no matter what their level of physical activity or where they work.
Why Hydration Is Important
Occasional thirst might seem like a minor problem, especially when you’re managing a workforce at risk of a variety of workplace health and safety issues.
Dehydration can be extremely dangerous, especially in industries where workers exert a lot of physical effort outdoors in the elements. It’s one of the most significant risks workers face.
One of the biggest problems with dehydration is that it’s often a serious problem before symptoms arise. By the time your body triggers a feeling of thirst, dehydration has set in.
The key to staying hydrated is to drink before you’re thirsty. And when you’re distracted by work, remembering to drink enough water can be challenging. This is especially true when drinking is inconvenient during working hours.
What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration?
Thirst isn’t the only symptom of dehydration. You might notice one or more of these symptoms before thirst sets in. Some of the initial symptoms of early dehydration include:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Darkened urine color
- Reduced weight
Some employers offer weight checks for employees at the beginning and end of their shifts. Water weight can account for several pounds of weight.
When there’s a significant change in body weight over a few hours, it’s not muscle or fat loss. It’s a sign that your body has lost water and needs rehydration.
Why Is Dehydration a Concern for Workers?
As we’ve already mentioned, hydration might not seem like a significant safety risk in the workplace. After all, many people believe that dehydration just means you’re thirsty.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Dehydration has a major effect on performance. It can also lead to serious overall health risks.
Even a minor drop in your body’s hydration level can have a profound effect on your ability to perform your work – possibly as much as a 20 percent drop in productivity. Moderate to severe dehydration can turn a proficient worker into a safety risk.
Dehydrated workers are accidents waiting to happen. They aren’t thinking clearly, and they aren’t in complete control of their actions.
They aren’t as quick to respond. It’s even fair to think of dehydrated workers as similar to those who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is especially true when their jobs include operating heavy machinery or motor vehicles.
Workers can have all of the protective equipment and safety training available. But if they are dehydrated, they are putting themselves and those around them at risk.
Now more than ever, health and workplace wellness are getting the attention they deserve. But the importance of hydration lags behind other concerns, including fitness and mental health.
Companies want to reduce workers’ compensation claims, prevent accidents, and boost productivity, but often, in their efforts, the need to keep their workers hydrated is overlooked.
Creating a hydrated workforce has two goals: to keep everyone safe and to ensure that productivity stays high. Making hydration a priority improves the health and well-being of each employee and helps the bottom line of the employer.
Best of all, hydrating employees while they’re on the job doesn’t just benefit them while they’re working.
Overall, they’ll be healthier and better able to enjoy their lives away from work, too. And for many, feeling their best because they are properly hydrated leads them to make better choices overall.
They might eat healthier foods, begin working out, or be able to ward off a variety of developing mental health issues.
How Common Are Dehydration-Related Injuries in the Workplace?
It’s impossible to know just how many hydration issues cause on-the-job injuries, and there are no official standards set for hydration by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Most people who experience accidents linked to dehydration don’t even realize their water intake plays a role.
They might have had a headache or foggy thinking before the accident. Maybe their reaction time was slowed by dehydration, and they couldn’t act as quickly as they would had they been hydrated. Maybe their dehydration was severe enough to cause dizziness that caused a fall.
In all of these cases, it’s likely other factors will be blamed for the incident. But in many instances, hydration was the specific reason or one of the variables that led to the accident.
This is why it’s so important for employers to take hydration and employee wellbeing into their own hands. They must commit to hydrating their workforce and ensuring that no accidents and injuries occur because of dehydration.
How to Keep Your Workforce Hydrated
Once you understand the importance of hydration and worksite wellness, you can consider the various ways to implement a hydration plan.
Start with an assessment of your company’s current standards.
Do you currently do anything to promote or ensure the hydration of employees? This could range from reminding employees it’s important to stay hydrated to supplying all workers with reusable water bottles and providing refilling stations at worksites.
The former is a good starting point, but there’s a lot of work to do. The latter is your goal. You want everyone at every worksite easily able to access clean drinking water whenever they need to do so.
Other ways you can promote hydration at worksites include:
- Providing access to electrolyte products for an added replenishment boost with water
- Set up signs and guides encouraging employees to drink water and recognize the signs of dehydration
- Make hydration part of your overall safety training and workplace wellness programs
- Provide employees with breaks and access to reusable drinking vessels they can keep at their workstations
If you’re looking for a waste-free, safe, potable water solution for your worksite, a water tank trailer is one of your best options.
Quench Buggy offers a mobile water station perfect for worksite hydration. The systems have multiple fountains and spigots, making it easy to access clean, cool, and fresh potable water no matter where you’re working.
To learn more about how Quench Buggy can make hydrating employees easy, book a quick call with us to discuss your needs.