As the weather heats up, workers are being urged to look out for the early warning signs of dehydration with Rio Tinto Alcan’s Yarwun refinery kicking off hydration monitoring.
Posters around the facility and information sheets in the loo are being used to remind workers of the importance of keeping hydrated in the heat.
Yarwun health and safety manager Bob Peake said November to March was a high-risk period at the plant.
“In the past we have experienced a higher level of injuries because people are distracted or less focused due to the heat and humidity,” Peake said.
“We assist team members by conducting hydration testing, so they can measure their own levels of hydration and link this to their symptoms and then self-manage.”
Dizzy spells, headaches and nausea are some of the signs of dehydration, which can quickly turn into heat stroke and Peake says it can creep up on workers very quickly.
“Two or three of our people have had medical issues on shift and we discovered they were seriously dehydrated,” Peake said.
“We’ve attempted to raise the profile of heat stress and hydration levels and remove apprehensions of talking about it”
Team leader Trevor Simpson told The Observer workers took hydration breaks for about 15 minutes every hour.
“We wear camel packs and drink from those every five to 10 minutes,” he said.
“Water bottles are also part of the boys’ work kit.”
He said workers looked out for each other on the job.
“Visual mateship is important all the time – it’s up to each individual to keep an eye on each other,” he said.
“It’s also important to fill out the hydration charts so we’re aware of how much we’re drinking.”
The Queensland Ambulance Service has the following tips workers:
•Drink small amounts of water every 15- 20 minutes
•Avoid drinks that cause dehydration such as alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks
•Monitor urine output- urine should be clear to light straw coloured
•Take regular breaks
•Monitor the condition of co-workers – unusual clumsiness can be a sign of heat stroke
•Work at a steady pace and do strenuous work in the cooler part of the day
Image: Luka Kauzlaric