Dehydration can seriously affect a worker’s health and their ability to function safely, so maintaining their hydration levels is essential for their wellbeing. However, this can be easier said than done as it’s not always convenient or easy to remember to keep hydrated.
It is difficult to define a recommended water intake for everyone, as a range of factors can affect an individual’s need, such as age and gender, but also levels of physical activity, temperature and climate.
The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) panel on dietetic products, nutrition and allergies recommends daily intakes of 2 and 2.5 litres for women and men respectively. However, it adds that these intakes apply only to conditions of moderate environmental temperature and moderate physical activity levels. Water loss under extreme conditions (both due to temperature and physical exercise) can amount to 8 litres a day and must be replaced with appropriate amounts.
Also, with sweating, the body loses essential electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Replacing these electrolytes is crucial for maintaining proper body functions, preventing dehydration, and avoiding muscle cramps. Products such as sports drinks, electrolyte tablets, and bananas can help replenish electrolytes.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that, when working hard or at a high rate in heat or stress conditions, employees should consume around 250ml (half a pint) of water every 15 minutes.
Here are some other tips on how to encourage employees to stay hydrated:
- Make water easily accessible: This means installing water coolers or fountains in convenient locations throughout the workplace, and providing reusable water bottles for employees to use.
- Educate employees about the importance of hydration: Let them know about the benefits of drinking water, such as improved concentration, energy levels, and mood.
- Ensure employees hydrate before a job if water is inaccessible: In situations where a worker may be unable to drink water during their work, make sure they hydrate before starting and upon finishing the activity.
- Offer hydration incentives: This could include things like water challenges, prizes for employees who meet their daily hydration goals, or discounts on water bottles.
- Be patient: It takes time to change habits. Don’t get discouraged if your employees don’t start drinking more water right away. Just keep reminding them of the importance of hydration and offer your support.
Here are some additional tips that you can consider:
- Offer a variety of water flavours: Not everyone likes plain water. Offer a variety of flavours, such as lemon, lime, or cucumber, to make water more appealing.
- Remove sugary drinks from the workplace: Sugary drinks can dehydrate the body, so it’s a good idea to remove them from the workplace. This could include things like soda machines, sweet jars, and coffee shops.
- Encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day: This will give them a chance to get up and move around, which can help them stay hydrated.
- Set a good example: If you want your employees to drink more water, make sure you’re doing it yourself. Keep a water bottle on your desk and take regular sips throughout the day.
- Create a hydration-friendly work environment: This means keeping the workplace cool and comfortable, and providing plenty of natural light.
By following these tips, you can encourage your employees to stay hydrated and improve their overall health and productivity.
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