Now that summer weather is finally here, staying hydrated throughout your day and at work is crucial to staying healthy and alert. Dehydration is a health concern that can be caused by hot, humid weather or when working around tools and equipment that produce a great amount of heat. Many people don’t think about drinking water until they feel thirsty. This is an issue because by the time thirst hits you, you’re already about two percent dehydrated. Hydration plays a huge role in on-the-job performance as well, especially for outdoor workers. Now more than ever, companies and industries are recognizing that staying hydrated needs to be part of one’s everyday responsibilities at work. Everyone has heard that it’s important to drink 8 glasses of water daily. But you may not be familiar with how hydration affects performance at work, industry regulations, and why sometimes it’s harder to get water to a job site than you may think. The Importance of Staying Hydrated at Work The average person should drink about half of their body weight in ounces per day as their baseline for staying hydrated. For workers in many industries, hot and humid conditions are a part of their day-to-day lives. Construction, utility, and agricultural workers often spend their workdays outside in the hot weather. Employees who work with tools that produce a lot of heat may experience these working conditions even if it may not be from the weather itself. Without access to fluids, workers can become dehydrated quickly which may lead to heat illness. Why is hydration so important? Water acts as a solvent for chemical reactions and a transport material for nutrients throughout your whole body. Water helps regulate and maintain body temperature, removes waste products, and moistens your mouth, eyes, nose, hair, skin, joints, and digestive tract. Without water, your body would shut down. Since the brain is about three-quarters of water, when there is a slight loss of water, the brain will shrink in size. Hydration headaches are the product of the shrinking of the brain. Proper hydration helps workers stay cool and alert throughout the day, as well as staying as comfortable as possible. This can ultimately lead to a more productive and healthier work environment. Hydration Compliance Hydration compliance is becoming a critical safety issue among some industrial employers. Some progressive employers consider hydration a key not only to worker safety but to worker output and performance. As part of a written safety program, they insist that workers consume a measured amount of hydration per work day and generally invest in small, packaged bottled water for convenience. Other employers treat compliance at the minimum level by making water available in or around the workplace and generally supply bulk water or filtration units. In these situations, workers are expected to travel to water coolers, taking breaks to keep properly hydrated. Are you drinking enough water on the job? How is an employer or an employee going to measure water consumption? Is it common to see workers drinking soft drinks, energy drinks, and/or not traveling to a water cooler to consume water? Questions like these are generating interest in more sophisticated hydration programs. This hydration formula is used to tailor water intake to your specific body type. It is important to follow this formula showing how much water your employee should consume daily to make sure that you are staying healthy and hydrated on the job. Current Water Industry Issues There are interruptions every year in the supply of bottled water. Low water inventory is almost guaranteed for certain regions due to seasonality, manufacturer performance, transportation, and storms. Almost every company experienced out of stock situations during storm season 2017 and water supply issues continue. Most bottled water companies do not directly deliver to industrial companies because it is too challenging. 5 Tips to Staying Hydrated Drink water before, during, and after physical labor to replace body fluids lost while sweating. Anticipate the working conditions you or your employees will be working in to make sure that a water supply is accessible and portable. Drink fluids with electrolytes in it. Keep in mind that by the time you are thirsty, you are already two percent dehydrated. The general rule is to drink 10 ounces of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of heavy activity, but this can vary depending on the heat index. Keep Employees Hydrated With the Right Supply Chain When the hot summer days hit, or even if working conditions are hot, make sure you and your employees are on top of their game when it comes to hydrating. When workers are properly hydrated, they are healthier, safer, and more productive, no matter what the working conditions or weather may be. Follow up to see if your employees are filled with fluids and staying hydrated throughout the day. Incorporating hydration compliance into your company’s daily operations will benefit worker health and ensure that the job at hand is completed efficiently. If your company or industry has ever run into difficulty when purchasing bottled water, make certain that you have a well-organized supply chain plan. Without a proactive plan, you are not in control of what you need, when you need it. Contact us to learn more about WESCO’s Water Hydration program.