Hydration at Work – a Legal Requirement

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Hydration at Work – a Legal Requirement

We all know the importance of remaining properly hydrated; there are numerous studies – many of which have been dealt with here in previous posts – outlining the very real and adverse effects of not drinking enough water, particularly at work, which is where we spend most of our time. The Loughborough study, in which dehydrated drivers were found to make twice as many driver errors as their hydrated counterparts, perfectly illustrates the dangers of not drinking enough water during the work day; and highlights the need for solutions like the Driving Hydration package. Not only does this kind of solution support internal Health and Safety strategies by providing a comprehensive approach to hydration – from educating and creating awareness right down to practical steps to encourage follow-through – but it also excels at meeting legal requirements, because providing access to drinking water at work is a pre-requisite for any law-abiding and socially-responsible company.

Published by the Health and Safety Executive, whose mission it is to prevent death, injury and ill health in Great Britain’s workplaces; Workplace Regulations 1992, as it pertains to Drinking Water, states:

(1) An adequate supply of wholesome drinking water shall be provided for all persons at work in the workplace.

(2) Every supply of drinking water required by paragraph (1) shall – (a) be readily accessible at suitable places; and (b) be conspicuously marked by an appropriate sign where necessary for reasons of health and safety.

(3) Where a supply of drinking water is required by paragraph (1), there shall also be provided a sufficient number of suitable cups or other drinking vessels unless the supply of drinking water is in a jet from which persons can drink easily.

In Assessing Hydration Status and Reported Beverage Intake in the Workplace, a study by Mears and Shirreffs which monitored the start and end hydration levels of different work groups across various industries; they found that 45% of the subjects felt that their concentration was adversely affected when they didn’t drink enough water – fatigue and hunger levels were higher, while concentration and energy levels were lower across all groups. The study also found that the daily water intake was higher amongst the firefighting work group, because they had been counselled about the importance of remaining properly hydrated to prevent a decline in cognitive and physical performance.

All of which goes to show that while knowing the facts and providing access to drinking water might be enough to meet the minimum requirements, as stipulated by Workplace Regulations 1992; often it’s the all-encompassing approach, one that educates, guides and keeps the importance of hydration top-of-mind that truly meets expectation and ensures a healthier and more productive work force.

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