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Keeping Hydrated in the Hot Weather

4th July 2018

It is not just outside workers who need to take care during this sweltering summer weather, office workers, commuters and those on the road also need to take sensible precautions if they are properly to look after their workplace wellbeing.

Employee health and wellbeing – keeping your cool in the heat

How long can Britain’s sweltering summer heatwave go on? Predictions are that it could run for most of July, with worries growing around water and food supplies.

The union body the TUC during June issued sensible guidance to employers to make sure they look after their employee wellbeing, especially that those working outside during the hot weather.

This included ensuring employees take sensible precautions, including regular breaks, have access to water and that they’re wearing appropriate clothing and sunscreen.

But it is not only outside workers who need protecting. As an employer, it is sensible to ensure that all your employees understand the employee health risks, even if for the most part they’re working in a cool, air-conditioned office.

Risk of sunburn

For example, is vital any employee understands the self-evident sunburn and over-exposure risks of hurling themselves down, unprotected, in the park in the blazing sunshine for an hour at lunchtime, not least in terms of the heightened risk of skin cancer.

It is also important employees recognise the perils of commuting or travelling for work in the heat, as well as the importance of staying hydrated generally during the hot weather.

The British Heart Foundation, for one, has published handy guidance on ways for employees to stay hydrated during the summer. Even if many of these are fairly obvious, they are still worth reiterating in terms of good practice around workplace and employee health. These are:

  • Have water available in meeting rooms
  • Invest in a good glass or water bottle that you want to use
  • Considering using a straw, as this can help you to drink more in a shorter period of time
  • Take a drink with you when you are travelling to and from work, or between sites
  • Go for water rather than tea or coffee. But also recognise that getting up and making yourself a cup of tea can be a good physical and mental break
  • Add a slice of lemon, orange or cucumber, or berries, mint or citrus, to your water to give it some flavour
  • Consider using a free app to track your water intake

Of course, a caveat here is not to overdo it, or especially to put yourself at risk of over-hydration.

Links between hydration and cognition

Alongside its tips, the BHF has reiterated the valuable (if again fairly self-evident) point that good hydration is important for productivity as well as general health.

As Optima Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Lucy Wright makes clear, while there is some evidence to suggest hydration can boost cognition, it is clear that dehydration reduces cognitive function and both mental and physical performance.

“We all need to be sensible during this hot weather and pace and look after ourselves, especially if we’re out and about or in direct sunlight,” she says.

“But it is also worth employers understanding, and communicating, the growing understanding there is around the links between good diet and hydration and good sleep, better cognition and, as a result, better performance and productivity both inside and outside of work.”