7 Out of 10 European Workers are Dehydrated While Working

by Rishika Gupta on  November 4, 2018 at 12:05 PM Research News
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Nearly 7 our 10 European workers have been found to be dehydrated on the Job, finds a new study. The effect of dehydration combined with heat stress can have deadly consequences for these workers. The results of this study are published in the PLOS ONE Journal.
 7 Out of 10 European Workers are Dehydrated While Working
7 Out of 10 European Workers are Dehydrated While Working

Occupational safety and daily day performance in 7 out of 10 workers, from several European industries, is negatively affected by a combination of heat stress and failure to maintain water balance.

The importance of preventing dehydration has received much attention in health and work-safety advisories, as well as highlighted in the media during hot periods. It is, therefore, astonishing that 7 out of 10 workers are not adequately hydrated already at the onset of work.

"The very high prevalence of dehydration was a surprise to us, and the potential influence on workers cognitive function and motor performance in key industries is quite problematic, because it markedly increase the risk of making mistakes and therefore threaten both safety and productivity," says professor Lars Nybo from the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at University of Copenhagen, and project coordinator for Heat-Shield.

A threat to productivity and safety/b> During the previous two years, the Heat-Shield project has assessed hydration status at the onset and end of work shift across five different European industries. The study included 139 workers from four different countries; Denmark, Cyprus, Greece, and Spain, and respectively working as manufacturing workers (in the aluminum industry) or as agricultural workers, police officers, tourism workers, and construction workers.

The study combines field data with advanced testing of cognitive and motor function, and demonstrate how the combination of dehydration and occupational heat stress is a significant threat to productivity and safety. The impaired cognitive and motor task performance will be problematic in many occupations, as they rely on the worker's cognitive function, e.g. their ability to keep the focus on a task and react appropriately to occupational challenges.

For agricultural workers dehydration is a problem that aggravates during work shifts, but across all industries, it is mainly failure to rehydrate from day to day that causes a state of mild to moderate dehydration.

This In itself a health problem, however when combined with heat stress it markedly influenced the ability to perform complex tasks. This may indeed influence productivity, but especially it can be a threat to safety at workplaces with high environmental temperatures.

Risk of larger problems in the near future

Andreas Flouris, Associate Professor at the University of Thessaly, Greece, and head of the field studies conducted in Southern Europe, emphasizes that the problem can be even bigger in the near future: "This is already a problem under the current conditions. However, facing a future with more frequent heat waves, it is of utmost importance for workers to adopt better hydration habits and for companies to develop effective hydration strategies."

Considering that many occupational tasks as handling of industrial machinery, driving, harvesting, etc. rely on alertness and the ability to integrate multiple inputs and react appropriately, it is of great importance to emphasize the importance of informing on the consequences of dehydration and the needs for adopting appropriate prevention.

These findings let us suggest that prevention plans with the implementation of suitable and more effective hydration and rehydration strategies are warranted at workplaces to minimize the negative effects of dehydration on workers performance when they are exposed to occupational heat stress.

Source: Eurekalert

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