- Employer: CITIC Pacific Mining
- Location: Pilbarra region
- Average Max Summer Temperatures: Exceeding 35°C
- Home of Australia’s hottest day: 50.5°C
Source: WA Department of Agriculture
CASE STUDY: The Pilbara region in northwest Australia is one of the country’s most extreme locations, with searing temperatures in summer that usually exceed 35 degrees. For the thousands of blue collar workers at CITIC Pacific Mining’s Sino Iron Ore project, these temperatures require a tailored approach to prevent dehydration on site.
CITIC Pacific Mining’s former health and safety superintendent, John Pica, who implemented THORZT’s Hydration Program across the Sino project in 2013 – where it remains in place in 2017 – told CSS Fatmag that the process begins with education.
“We provide education to our employees so they have the tools and knowledge to identify signs of dehydration,” John said, describing those symptoms as muscle cramps, pain, or spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs, heavy sweating and dizziness.
“Our staff are trained to look for these signs in fellow workmates as a part of a program encouraging ‘mate safety’.”
John said that workers are also encouraged to pre-hydrate before they commence work. Studies have found that Australian mining workers regularly begin their shift dehydrated and may lose as much as four or five litres of fluid during a 10 hour shift.
“We encourage our employees to drink a bottle of water before they come to work and drink fluid consistently throughout the day.”
However consuming water alone is not sufficient and may result in a blood sodium imbalance due to the salt being lost in sweat. The result can be the potentially deadly condition of hyponatremia which has caused many deaths of otherwise healthy people hiking the Kokoda Trail.
“Drinking water replaces lost fluids but not essential salts, minerals, carbohydrates and amino acids needed to maintain optimum performance and productivity,” John said, adding that this is the essence of what THORZT products provide.
“We provide our staff with electrolyte products as one of many different ‘heat and hydration’ initiatives.”
David Rhodes, THORZT’s National Business Development Manager, who helped implement the Hydration Program across the Sino project said its workers welcomed learning about what it means to start the day hydrated.
“CITIC ran and drove the program. They were big supporters of it and still are. In the initial three years we went on site to assist with the education and tool box talks at beginning of each summer.”
“The guys were really interested in how starting the day hydrated means finishing it in better shape.”
“That was the biggest thing for them. Not feeling so fatigued at the end of the day”
Dehydration and Safety:
Even mild dehydration, which is classified as fluid loss of between 1 and 4 per cent of body mass, can have serious implications on worker safety and productivity, negatively impacting decision-making, cognitive performance, attention and visual motor tracking.
For more information download THORZT’s free Workplace Dehydration Guide