It’s an issue any time you’re not drinking enough water, but dehydration is even more of a problem when you work at a surface mine. The temperatures are often hot, climates can get humid and you’ll often be out in those elements performing laborious task; three factors that combine to exacerbate your level of dehydration and the symptoms that come with it.
What are the effects of dehydration, and how can you ensure that you’re staying properly hydrated while you work? Here are the facts on dehydration and how you can learn to stay safe with a training manual by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
Dehydration in Surface Miners
For surface miners, dehydration often combines with high temperatures and a heavy workload to result in heat illness. In a study of heat illness among Australian surface miners, a staggering 87 percent of the 91 surface miners surveyed reported that they had one or more symptoms related to a heat illness in the last year.
The study classified heat illnesses as minor or moderate depending on how many symptoms the miners had, and it also analyzed their hydration levels. Both levels of heat illness were much more common among surface miners who were either minimally or significantly dehydrated.
The Levels of Dehydration
Although the above study used minimal dehydration and significant dehydration for its classifications, there are actually three levels of dehydration – mild, moderate and severe. Dehydration is simply when your body doesn’t have the amount of water it needs, and the level of dehydration depends on just how much water you’re missing.
Mild and Moderate Dehydration
Symptoms for mild and moderate dehydration are similar, making it difficult to distinguish between the two without running tests. You’ll feel thirsty and could have a dry mouth. You won’t urinate as much because your body will want to keep the fluids it has, and when you do urinate, it will have a darker yellow color than normal.
Your skin will dry out and be cool to the touch. Headaches and muscle cramps are also common. Keep in mind that none of these symptoms are guaranteed, and if you’re dehydrated, you could have some of these symptoms or all of them.
Many of the symptoms of severe dehydration are the same as those with mild and moderate dehydration, except they’re even more severe. Your skin could get even dryer and your urine may be an even darker shade of yellow. Symptoms unique to severe dehydration include your heartrate and breathing becoming more rapid. You may find yourself confused, easily annoyed and drained. Fainting can also occur.
Common Dehydration Symptoms in Surface Miners
Surface miners tend to have specific symptoms when they’re dehydrated and suffering from heat illness. Being aware of these can help you identify the issue more quickly. Fatigue was the most common symptom surface miners had, followed closely by headaches. After that, it was a high body temperature and muscle cramps.
Staying Hydrated While You Work
The cause of dehydration is simple, as it’s all about the amount of water you drink. If you drink enough water, you won’t get dehydrated.
The challenge when you work on a surface mine is remembering to take a moment to drink some water. It’s easy to keep working, and then only take a few sips on your lunch, but this can have serious repercussions. Heat illness isn’t just an inconvenience; it can also cause seizures and other major problems.
Since you’re constantly exerting yourself and sweating while you do so, you’re going to lose much more water than the average person. This means you also need to consume more water. The smart thing to do is to drink from a large water bottle throughout the day and don’t wait until you get thirsty to drink.
You can learn more about staying safe while working on a surface mine, along with all the rules and regulations, in the MSHA New Miner Training package. The MSHA New Miner training package includes your required compliance training, and you must finish four hours of it before you even start working on a surface mine. Check it out to learn everything you need to know and start your job on the right foot.