How the Hoover Dam Shows the Importance of Drinking Water on Construction Sites

May 21 , 2021

By official count, 96 people died during the construction of the Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border. Many of these deaths were the result of heat prostration, the overheating of the body due to extreme weather conditions. Some people collapsed from heat exhaustion and did not survive the journey to the hospital in Las Vegas. Officials could not figure out what was causing the heat-related medical issues (poor diet, overeating?) and hired Harvard University’s Fatigue Laboratory to help.

The Harvard investigators quickly linked the job site’s problem to dehydration, which remains a serious problem in the construction industry. Management immediately provided more water stations and encouraged workers to drink water, keeping the workforce productive and healthy.

OSHA Requirements

These days, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all employers to “provide potable drinking water in amounts that are adequate to meet the health and personal needs of each employee.” Still, employees are responsible for drinking the water employers make available and keeping themselves hydrated.

Check Your Pee

One way employees can monitor their hydration is with their urine. Clear or light yellow urine is good, but dark yellow or orange urine is a sign of dehydration. Going to the water cooler and taking water breaks does not denote weakness or laziness. Rather, water breaks can help you do your job and stay productive.

Create Healthy Habits

Remember to drink water even if you don’t feel dehydrated and make a habit of visiting water stations. Sometimes, you may not feel thirsty even though you are becoming dehydrated. As Luke Snell, P.E.explains in Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, you may not know you’re thirsty until you drink your first cup of water. Often, you will have one sip and need several cups of water to quench your thirst and rehydrate.

The lesson at the Hoover Dam is the reason why water coolers exist on all our job sites today. This moment in history is also a reminder that workers are expected to – and should – take water breaks. In addition to enjoying some pleasant “water cooler chat,” you will keep yourself hydrated, healthy, and productive.

What If My Employer Does Not Provide Drinking Water?

If you are on a job site without drinking water, alert your employer as soon as possible. Your employer should remedy the situation right away, and if they do not, you can file a complaint with OSHA. In the meantime, obtain water offsite or bring a water bottle from home to keep yourself hydrated.

If you get dehydrated on the job you may also want to speak to an attorney about your legal options. Employees who are hospitalized with heat prostration may be able to recover medical bills and missed wages via workers’ compensation.

With more than 60 years of combined experience, Ramsay Law Firm, P.A. can help you with your dehydration-based workers’ compensation claim. Our Board-Certified workers’ compensation attorneys are ready to find the best solution for your situation.

All you need to do is call us at (704) 376-1616 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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