Managing Dehydration on the Work Site

Drinking water on a worksite

Dehydration can be a serious risk, particularly during the summertime. This is especially true on a work site, where most of your crew are in the sun for most of the day. As a first aider or person in management, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your workers are protected from the worst of the effects of dehydration. 

In order to help you do that, APT has put together this blog post on how to recognise the tell-tale signs of dehydration. Once you can recognise them all you’ll be in a better position to monitor the health and safety of your work crew. 

Dehydration Indicators

To protect your staff from the effects of advanced dehydration, it’s important that you can recognise it early. To help you do this, we’ve put together this list. Obviously, some of these symptoms aren’t obvious from a distance, so you may need to ask your colleague or they may report it to you. 

Headache

Headaches are a common symptom of headaches. While there are many causes of headaches, a headache is brought on as a result of your brain being unable to get the fluids it needs to function properly. 

At this stage, there isn’t a consensus amongst the neurology community as to why dehydration causes headaches. However, one theory is that lack of fluids causes blood vessels connected to the brain to stretch – leading to pain. 

Regardless of the reason why dehydration causes headaches the fix is clear. If you believe that a member of staff is experiencing a dehydration-induced headache, you should immediately suggest that they take a break, get out of the sun, and have a drink of water. 

Light-Headedness/Dizziness 

Related to diminished blood pressure, dizziness and lightheadedness are other symptoms associated with dehydration. This symptom can lead to fainting in older adults if left untreated, so it’s a good idea to get it sorted as soon as possible. 

Fatigue 

Fatigue is another common symptom associated with dehydration. The reason for this is that our level of hydration is directly linked to our sleep/wake cycle – meaning that we’re more awake when we’re hydrated. 

Dark Coloured Urine/Failure to Urinate

Another telltale sign of dehydration is the colour of the person’s urine. Brighter, transparent urine is indicative of a high level of hydration whilst darker, more translucent urine is indicative of dehydration.  

Dry Skin/Skin Elasticity/Cracked Lips

Dry skin is another sign of dehydration. However, it’s important to remember that these are also symptoms of many other illnesses. 

Heart palpitations

Dehydration can cause numerous cardiac issues, such as heart palpitations. 

Low blood pressure

Low blood pressure isn’t something you can definitely prove without lab work. However, there are a couple of sub-indicators that suggest that you might have low blood pressure. These are: 

  • Dizziness
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Blurred Vision 
  • Nausea

If you or anyone on your crew is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s time for a break and a large glass of water. 

Inability to concentrate

Another big indication of dehydration is an inability to concentrate on minute or specific tasks. For example, if you see someone on your crew struggling to keep their head about their task and it’s a hot day, you might want to check to see if they’ve had enough to drink that day.

An inability to concentrate on tasks is an important indication to look out for. Not only is it a potential indication of dehydration, but it’s also a cause for concern by itself. An employee who can’t concentrate is an employee who isn’t paying attention to safety concerns or quality concerns. So, if you see someone on your crew struggling to concentrate on work, it’s a good idea to give them a break and encourage them to drink some water. 

Preventing Dehydration 

Below are some useful tips if you want to prevent dehydration from becoming a problem. 

  • Encourage your crew to take regular drinks – even if they don’t feel thirsty. Ideally, they should have been 6 and 8 cups a day. Both water and liquids with high electrolytes are great choices. 
  • Encourage your staff to avoid caffeinated drinks (if possible). These are diuretics, which means you actually increase the chance of dehydration. 
  • Keep a source of fresh, clean water close by and encourage your crew to use it. 

Emergency First Aid at Work Training from APT

APT offers a range of courses designed to give you the skills and confidence in order to become a qualified first-aider, including a number of HSA courses in Stoke On Trent. 

Contact APT today for more information about our first aid courses in Stoke-On-Trent. 

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Kelly Raboutot

Kelly Raboutot