Safety Focused Newsletter: July 2021
Avoiding Dehydration at Work
As summer temperatures rise, your body’s water and electrolyte balances can get thrown off by dehydration while you work. This condition occurs when the body uses or loses more fluids than it takes in.
Dehydration is a serious complication that can cause fatigue, dizziness and confusion—all of which can compromise your safety on the job. As such, staying hydrated at work is essential. Doing so can improve your mood, boost brain function and prevent the onset of other health concerns.
Follow these tips to stay properly hydrated on the job:
- Track your consumption. Use a notecard or mobile app to record how much water you drink each day.
- Sip regularly. Drink water throughout the workday—even when you’re not necessarily thirsty.
- Make it convenient. Carry a water bottle wherever you go. Carry a larger container if you’re working outside for longer periods of time.
- Incorporate extra flavoring. Add a slice of lemon, lime or other fruit to your water. Or, buy pre-flavored water packed with electrolytes to replenish the ones you lose.
- Eat high-water-content foods. Supplement your water intake by consuming high-water-content foods like celery, tomatoes and melons.
- Be careful in the heat. If warm conditions increase your need for water, make sure you have an ample supply, take breaks and get out of the heat if you feel weak, confused or have a dry mouth. These symptoms could indicate a heat-related illness.
Just because you’re done with work for the day doesn’t mean you should stop drinking water. Continue to hydrate even after your shift ends. After all, chronic dehydration can increase the risk of kidney stones and other health issues.
Between regulating your body temperature, lubricating joints, preventing infections, delivering nutrients to cells and keeping your organs functioning properly, drinking water is a good habit to uphold—especially at work. For more tips on staying hydrated, consult your supervisor.
Preventing and Responding to Sunburns
Many employees work outside, unknowingly exposing themselves to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. In fact, even on a cloudy day, outdoor workers can capture up to 80% of UV rays. On a hot, sunny day, UV rays can be even more intense–potentially causing exposed workers to experience a red, painful skin reaction, also known as sunburn.
Sunburn occurs after excessive exposure to UV rays. The symptoms of sunburn often appear a few hours following initial exposure and typically peak between six and 36 hours after such exposure. Sunburn symptoms are usually temporary and subside in three to five days. However, sunburn can cause permanent damage to the skin’s DNA. Further, all it takes is just one bad sunburn to cause long-lasting damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. As a result, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) asserts that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives.
Nevertheless, there are steps that employees like you can take to prevent sunburns while working outside. Specifically, the AAD recommends using the “ABC” method to lessen the risk of sun damage. This method entails the following action items:
- Away—Keep away from direct sunlight and try to avoid prolonged exposure—especially during periods when UV rays are the strongest (usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.).
- Block—If you must work outside, be sure to use sunblock, which should be a minimum of SPF 30. Apply sunblock 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply it liberally every two hours throughout the day.
- Cover up—In addition to applying sunblock, wear appropriate clothing—such as long sleeves, hats or sunglasses—to keep your skin and eyes safe from exposure to UV rays.
If you do experience sunburn, apply aloe gel or 1% hydrocortisone cream to the affected area. Consider taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain management, and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
If your job requires you to be outside, it’s imperative to avoid getting sunburn. Following the proper precautions can make all the difference in keeping your skin safe.
For further guidance on safety in the sun, consult your supervisor.