Working in the harsh Australian heat increases the risk of dehydration and heat stress for Australian workers. Most at risk are those working outdoors performing physically intensive labour and indoor workers who are exposed to high temperatures with poor ventilation. This includes miners, construction workers, farmers, factory workers, warehouse workers and firefighters to name but a few. If you work in the heat, follow these 14 safety tips to minimise your risk of heat illness and stay healthy and safe on those hot summer days.
1. Don’t wait until you are thirsty
Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. If you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Instead drink small amounts frequently at regular intervals. 250mls every 15-20 mins is the recommendation for working in the heat.
2. Carry a Drink Bottle
You are more inclined to drink when fluid is readily available. Aim to refill an 800ml drink bottle at least once every hour. If you wear a tool belt, the Flip’N’Grip Drink Bottle Pouch keeps your drink bottle on you at all times.
3. Wear a Hydration Backpack
If a drink bottle is not feasible or refill facilities are not accessible, a hydration backpack is great for hands free hydration. THORZT hydration backpack holds 2.5L, comes in hi-vis and will keep your fluid store cool for hours.
4. Monitor Your Number One’s
Urine Colour is the easiest way to monitor your hydration levels. Check out the THORZT Urine Colour Chart for more information.
Studies show that over half of Australian workers show up to work already 2% dehydrated. Drink plenty of fluids in the hours before your shift so that you are not starting your work day with a fluid deficit.
6. Avoid Ice Cold Drinks
Cold water causes the blood vessels in the stomach to constrict, reducing the rate of fluid absorption. Cool water is absorbed faster, which is important to keep you hydrated when working in the heat.
7. Limit Caffeine Intake
Avoid consuming caffeine before and during the shift (this includes coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks). Caffeine has a diuretic effect which increases water loss and contributes to dehydration.
8. Avoid Alcohol Before Your Shift
Alcohol is a diuretic and over consumption can cause severe dehydration. If you consume alcohol 24-36 hours before your shift you may not recover and your dehydration levels will only worsen throughout the shift.
9. Take Adequate Meal Breaks
Food contains water and is one of the primary means by which we replace lost fluids on a daily basis. Eating food also helps to stimulate the thirst response, causing you to drink more. Ensure your diet includes lots of leafy greens, fresh fruit and nuts to help replenish the electrolytes lost through sweat.
10. Drink an electrolyte drink
Heavy sweat rates when working in the heat can cause substantial electrolyte losses. An electrolyte drink will replenish lost electrolytes quickly and keep you performing at your peak. Choose a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink (low GI) for sustained energy release, or sugar free electrolyte drink for carb-free electrolyte replenishment.
11. Work Smarter – Not Harder
Where possible schedule harder work and physically demanding tasks for cooler parts of the day. When this is unavoidable, consider sharing the load / rotating with another co-worker. Ensure adequate work-rest cycles are in place, check the forecast at the start of each day and adjust the work:rest cycles accordingly.
12. Slip, Slop, Slap
When you’re sweating for long hours out in the melting sun, you need to ensure your sunscreen is water resistant, long lasting and covers you with the highest possible levels of UV protection. ProBloc SPF 50+ sunscreen meets all of these requirements is designed specifically for Australian industrial workers.
13. Dress Appropriately
Choose lightweight workwear made from organic materials such as cotton. Organic fibres breath better and promote airflow whereas synthetic fibres trap heat, increasing the likelihood of heat stress.
If you work all day in the heat, try wearing a cooling vest above your regular clothing. Originally developed for professional athletes, cooling vests are becoming increasing popular among industrial workers to help regulate their core temperate when performing physically demanding work in the heat.
Wearing a sun hat or accessorising your hard hat with a hard hat brim is a cheap as chips way to keep the sun off your face and neck and a definite must for working in the Aussie sun.
The THORZT Cooling Neck Tie contains the same polymer crystals found in the Chilly Vest. Submerge in cold water for 5-10 mins then place around your wrist or neck for 25-30 mins of cooling, refreshment.