How much water do workers need?
Workplace Safety Advisor
Drinking enough fluids is one of the most important things workers can do to prevent heat illness. Water is generally sufficient for hydration, according to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) (as opposed to adding electrolyte drinks).
Hydrate before work
Being hydrated when you start work makes it easier to stay hydrated through the day.
If you are dehydrated when you start work, you may not be able to drink enough to catch up with your body’s need for water.
Hydrate during work
Health officials urge workers to drink before feeling thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already behind in fluid replacement. Dehydration is a primary contributor to heat exhaustion.
When working in the heat, drink 1 cup (8 ounces) of water every 15–20 minutes. This translates to ¾–1 quart (24–32 ounces) per hour.
Drinking at shorter intervals is more effective than drinking large amounts infrequently.
Do not drink more than 48 oz (1½ quarts) per hour! Drinking too much water or other fluids (sports drinks, energy drinks, etc.) can cause a medical emergency because the concentration of salt in the blood becomes too low.
Hydrate after work
Most people need several hours to drink enough fluids to replace what they have lost through sweat. The sooner you get started, the less strain you place on your body from dehydration.
Hydrating after work is even more important if you work in the heat on a regular basis. Chronic dehydration increases the risk for a number of medical conditions, such as kidney stones.
Beverages to avoid
Some energy drinks contain much more caffeine than standard servings of coffee, tea, or soft drinks.
Drinking several energy drinks per day can raise caffeine levels enough to affect the heart. When added to the strain that heat places on the body, caffeine can be risky.
Many energy drinks contain as much or more sugar as soft drinks, which adds hundreds of extra calories to the diet.
Alcohol can cause dehydration. In addition, drinking it within 24 hours of working in the heat increases the risk of heat illness.
Keep a check on your workers’ drinking habits during hot months. It can make a big difference.
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