A Workplace Cool Kit
Now that we have entered the heart of summer here in the Midwest, heat waves are upon us and they can be the most deadly weather-related exposure in the United States. In fact, they account for more deaths annually over hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.
The estimated *770,000 Missourians that work outside some part of their day have an even higher risk of being exposed to the sun’s harmful rays than most. More than 400 worker injuries were reported to the Department in 2010 due to heat prostration, which includes heat stroke, sun stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and other effects of environmental heat (but excludes sunburn). In 2011, already 69 heat related work injuries have been reported and unfortunately, one worker lost (his/her) life.
Before you head out to work all day under the hot sun, make sure you have an adequate supply of water. Even though employers are required to provide water supply for workers, it never hurts to bring more to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Sixty percent of the human body is composed of water and, considering perspiration and breathing are two of the ways our bodies lose water, outdoor workers require more replenishment than the average recommended amount.
Although necessary water intake varies from person to person, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set the following guidelines to consider:
- One should drink six to eight ounces in the hour before starting work.
- While working, one should consume enough water to keep from being thirsty, which is approximated at two to three glasses (16-32 ounces) each hour.
It is important to note that consuming too much water (more than 12 quarts in 24 hours) can be harmful. Also, it is equally relevant to replace essential salts and minerals that your body loses due to perspiration, which can be found in certain sports beverages.
So before you head out to work, make sure to pack a few bottles of water along with some sports drinks in a small cooler. Stay quenched, stay healthy!
*Information provided by MERIC. Total number includes workers in the following occupations: construction, mining and logging, gasoline stations, utilities, truck transportation, amusement/gambling/recreation, accommodations and food services, repair and maintenance, and local government.