May 22, 2023

Toolbox Topic: Hydration safety in construction

Hydration safety in construction is a key concern when working in the warmer months. Regular review of hydration safety as a construction safety topic can help keep workers healthy and safe while working in the summer. Drinking enough fluids is one of the most important things you can do to prevent heat illness. Below are some ways to ensure your team stays hydrated throughout the workday. In most cases, drinking water is sufficient to remain hydrated.

Hydrate before work
  • It is easier to stay hydrated throughout the day if you start the day hydrated.
  • If you are dehydrated when you start work, you may not be able to drink enough fluid to catch up with your body’s need for water.
Hydrate during work
  • Drink before you feel thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already behind in fluid replacement. Dehydration is a primary contributor to heat exhaustion.
  • When you are dehydrated, your work performance may suffer, even if you don’t notice it.
  • When working in heat, aim to drink 8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes.
  • However, do not overdo it. Do not drink more than 48 ounces of water in an hour. Drinking too much water or other fluids in a short period can disrupt the concentration of salt in the blood and cause a medical emergency.
Hydrate after work
  • Most people will require several hours to drink enough fluids to replace what they lose through sweat during physical labor. The sooner you get started, the less strain you place on your body from dehydration.
  • Hydrating after work is even more important if you work in the heat on a regular basis. Chronic dehydration increases the risk for several medical conditions, including kidney stones.
What to drink
  • Water will almost always maintain hydration during work in the heat as long as you eat regular meals to replace the salt and other electrolytes lost in sweat.
What to avoid
  • Energy drinks — Some energy drinks contain more caffeine than regular servings of coffee, tea, or soft drinks. Drinking several energy drinks per day can be risky when added to the strain placed on your body by heat.
  • Alcohol — Alcohol can cause dehydration. In addition, drinking alcohol within 24 hours of working in the heat can increase the risk of heat illness.


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