Ensuring workers are properly hydrated is essential for preventing heat-related illnesses, OSHA is reminding employers.
In a recently published tip sheet, the agency explains that our bodies heat up as we work and cool down through sweating. This can lead to dehydration and a heat-related illness.
OSHA details how substances such as alcohol, caffeine and medications can affect hydration.
Among the agency’s tips for employers:
- Educate workers on the importance of hydration and what to avoid.
- Equip all work areas with accessible and visible cool water (less than 60° F).
- Encourage workers to drink at least 1 cup (8 ounces) of water every 15-20 minutes while working in the heat, not just when they’re thirsty.
- Maintain a cool or shaded location for rest breaks.
- Designate a relief person so workers can take a water break, or have water brought directly to workers who can’t leave their work area.
- Encourage workers to keep a sealable bottle of cool water in their work area so they can continuously hydrate.
- Consider providing electrolyte products when workers perform strenuous, sweat-producing job tasks for extended periods of time.
Taking scheduled meal breaks, OSHA adds, will help replace lost electrolytes.
Finally, workers should hydrate before, during and after work. “Chronic dehydration increases the risk for medical conditions, such as kidney stones,” the agency says.