Humid and hot working conditions are a reality of life for construction workers. Without easy access to potable water, these workers can suffer dehydration, which is the main cause of heat illness.
Construction companies have to provide water in the workplace. They should not only offer enough water supply but also support consumption. Water should be cool, pure, and fresh. Furthermore, it should not contain any odor that would discourage employees from consuming water.
In this article, you will learn about the best practices for providing adequate water supply. In addition to this, this article sheds light on the risks of drinking less water.
Offering Potable Water on Construction Jobs
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction companies have to provide potable water in the workplace and allow their workers to drink it. OSHA is an organization in the US that regulates health and safety in the workplace. The agency determines drinking water laws in the working environment.
Potable water includes tap water that you can safely drink. However, construction workers need not pay for water that the company provides. And construction companies do not have to offer bottled water if drinking water is available.
It’s worth knowing that a construction company should make water available at places near the working area. For example, on a multi-story construction site, employees can put water in an accessible place on each floor where construction workers are working. And the water should be cool, pure, and fresh.
Most importantly, construction workers should not share their water bottles. This is because the majority of diseases are spread through saliva. Therefore, construction companies should provide disposable cups or bottles to the workers for drinking.
Potable water should be distributed in disposable bottles from a water cooler, kitchen sink, or fountain. An important thing to note is that employees should never drink water from a bathroom tap as it could be contaminated.
Apart from this, employers need to make sure that there is sufficient water for all construction workers.
Best Practices for Providing Adequate Water Supply
- Companies should ensure that the containers are filled before anyone informs that the drinking water should be replenished.
- Water containers should always be full.
- Arrange for vehicles to continuously move the potable water to locations near where building workers are working, so they have fast access.
- Offer sanitation facilities.
- Inform workers that drinking enough water is beneficial for their health. They will be fit and able to maintain their work pace throughout the whole work shift.
- Inform construction workers that they will not be penalized for consuming adequate amounts of water often.
- Train building workers and supervisors on the significance of drinking enough water to help prevent heat illness
- Remind workers and supervisors to continue consuming water in sufficient amounts before and after work to decrease the risk of heat-related illnesses.
Risks of Drinking Less Water
Studies show that dehydration can reduce heat tolerance and decrease work capacity. You should know that even low levels of dehydration can cause a lack of alertness, tiredness, and headaches. That’s not all. Dehydration can impair your cardio-vascular system and renal system in the long run. Plus, it impacts your mental health negatively.
Concentration lapses can cause simple mistakes in a working environment. This can
Extreme thirst is usually the initial sign of dehydration. A dry mouth indicates that you need to drink some water. Moreover, dehydration is likely a problem if urine is dark in color, or there is a significant difference in the urinary frequency.
Moderate or mild dehydration can cause dizziness and muscle cramps. Severe dehydration can lead to shock, unconsciousness, low blood pressure, and even death.
Not drinking enough water when the first symptoms of dehydration sets in can lead to more serious problems. Severe dehydration can also lead to overheating. This starts with heat cramps, which causes cramps in most used muscles. Generally, muscle cramps can be eased by stretching out the muscles that are affected and consuming water.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
A dehydrated worker might suffer from heat exhaustion after heat cramps. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include lightheadedness, vomiting, nausea, and profuse sweating. During heat exhaustion, the worker’s body temperature can reach 104 degrees, which can be life-threatening.
If a construction worker is suffering from heat exhaustion, he should visit a health care professional.
Heatstroke is the last stage in heat illness. Symptoms of heatstroke include seizure, disorientation, dry skin, and absence of sweating. During heat stroke, the worker’s body temperature can reach 105 degrees.
At this temperature, the organs of the body can be damaged. If a building worker is suffering from heatstroke, he should get medical help at once and consume lots of water.On the other hand, having well-hydrated construction workers helps business. However, construction companies should take care of the well-being of workers.
Advantages of Hydrated Construction Workers
Since your body is approximately 60% water, it is essential to replenish it throughout the day. Besides, there are many advantages to drinking water.
Water plays an important role in enhancing the productivity and quality of a person’s work life. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of drinking a lot of water is that it helps fight fatigue and helps your body perform its day-to-day functions effectively.
If construction workers are well hydrated, they would feel less tired. Workers who are less tired will be more alert, so they will probably perform their jobs more efficiently and safely.
Water also has a positive effect on the worker’s mood. According to many studies, drinking sufficient water typically means an improved mood. In the work environment, a good and positive attitude usually means finishing essential tasks is less intimidating.
Other than that, drinking water also helps reduce stress levels. Over time, stress can lead to headaches and other health conditions. By drinking water regularly, building workers will have fewer sick leaves and will be more energetic at work.
Consuming water can also help alleviate symptoms of a headache in a dehydrated person within half an hour to three hours.
All in all, water is an excellent choice to help workers stay hydrated as it contains no caffeine and is free of calories. Furthermore, drinking water protects your gums and teeth. Water rinses away oral bacteria and food residues and controls bad odor.
How Much Water Should Construction Workers Consume?
Workers should drink four 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Convenient access to drinking water throughout the whole work shift motivates construction workers to drink.
And workers can prevent heat illness by consuming water in small quantities frequently.
On the other hand, construction companies should encourage workers to avoid consuming alcohol completely. As a matter of fact, they should encourage construction workers to prefer water over other drinks.
It’s important to note that sugar-and caffeine-laden drinks can accelerate dehydration. Moreover, workers may consume less water if they choose drinks that contain caffeine and sugar.
If building workers experience any of the signs of dehydration, it is essential for them to:
- Often consume small amounts of water.
- Take a break from work and relax in the shade.
- Inform their supervisor and co-workers.
If the symptoms of dehydration persist, employees should seek medical help at once. Construction workers can only return to work with approval from supervisors and health care professionals.
Construction companies are accountable for providing drinking water at no cost to their workers. Potable water should be fresh, cool, and safe to drink. Apart from this, construction companies need to make sure that there is enough water for every employee. Not drinking water in sufficient quantities can lead to dehydration.
Dehydration can cause seizures, fainting, lightheadedness, dizziness, lethargy, and headaches. Construction companies cannot let employees go with insufficient amounts of water.