Workers can defy heat with ion-supply drink

It is no secret that construction workers in the Middle East are exposed to high temperatures. To protect them from heat stroke, more and more contractors are turning to ‘ion supply drinks’ for their site staff. Conrad Egbert asks microbiologist Medha Bhaskaran at Pocari Sweat what can be done to keep dehydration at bay.

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By  Conrad Egbert Published  September 10, 2005

Workers can defy heat with ion-supply drink|~|Bhaskaran,-Medha200.gif|~|Medha Bhaskaran says that Pocari Sweat is a cost-effective way to combat dehydration in the work force.|~|What is Pocari Sweat and how is it beneficial to construction labourers?

Pocari Sweat is an ‘Ion Supply Drink’. Ions are charged elements, also known as electrolytes. Pocari Sweat contains all vital electrolytes and 7.2% of carbohydrates.
Workers lose 8 to 10 litres of sweat during 8 to 10 hours of outdoor work, especially in summer when the temperature and humidity are high.

Sweat takes away water and electrolytes from the body; deficiency of these vital substances reduces the body’s capacity to sweat. Lack of sweat means collapse of the cooling system, and this makes the workers highly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses and even heat stroke.

Pocari Sweat restores lost electrolytes and water, maintaining the workers’ capacity to sweat. Proper hydration provides short and long term health benefits to the workers; thousands will be saved the torture of heat illnesses and emergency hospital visits.

For the companies, incorporating Pocari Sweat in the workers’ drinking schedule helps reduce medical emergencies and costs. It also improves workers’ well being and boosts their morale.

How does Pocari Sweat work?

The sodium in Pocari Sweat is just enough to ensure quick
absorbtion and maintenance of blood volume. In addition, it contains other important electrolytes like potassium, magnesium and calcium, ensuring muscular and cellular hydration.

It contains 7.2% carbohydrates that help open up glucose channels in the intestines through which sodium makes a quick entry.

The formula of Pocari Sweat converts the otherwise passive water transport into an active one. Sweat-based dehydration needs months-long preventive therapy. Pocari Sweat is designed for long-term use.

What does it do to a person’s metabolism?

Water plays a basic role in the body’s metabolism. Dehydration slows down this process by slowing down the circulation and supply of oxygen and nutrients to the body cells. Lack of oxygen and nutrients means less production of energy at the cellular level.

Transport of produced energy needs a good water and electrolyte environment around the cell. Dehydration affects all this. Once energy production and transport are affected, the body’s metabolism at the cellular level slows down. Pocari Sweat not only keeps the body hydrated but it also maintains a healthy electrolyte environment. This results in a normal and active metabolism.

Why are salt tablets and water not enough for workers?

Replacement of sodium is just one aspect of dehydration prevention. Salt tablets look after sodium replacement; they may also load the patient with sodium, causing other complications. They can also irritate the gastric mucosa as they land in the stomach. So, taking salt tablets does not replenish all the vital electrolytes. With salt tablets, monitoring the water intake in proportion to the sodium intake for an individual worker is almost impossible.

Are companies forthcoming in buying it for their workers?

Yes, several construction, petroleum and shipping related companies have understood the concept of hydration. They have been using our product and many have formulated their own drinking schedules to suit their working conditions.
However, hundreds of companies are not using anything other than just plain water, although some offer glucose drinks to their workers.

When workers lose several litres of sweat and body salts, water is just not enough. It does not replenish lost electrolytes, bloats the stomach and kills the thirst. Water also dilutes the blood, prompting the kidneys to produce more urine. This is known as spontaneous dehydration.
Glucose solutions prove more harmful. They do not
contain electrolytes and carry huge amounts of sugar that could prove unhealthy. Sugary drinks take time to get
absorbed by the body.

Keeping in mind a worker’s salary, which is about AED30 per day, is the product affordable?

The best way to make the product available to the workers is through the company. The most important factor is ‘scheduled drinking’, which is formulated by the health and safety managers.

I have met thousands of outdoor workers during seminars and I found that whenever they feel thirsty, they spend money on drinks such as tea, coffee or sugary soft drinks that eventually cause dehydration. Whether the company gives them hydrating drinks or not, it is always better that they know what is best.

Also it’s a myth that Pocari Sweat is costly. With proper drinking schedules, diet and sleep, the cost can be just AED1 per day per head.

Does the company buy it or are the costs deducted from workers’ salaries?

Many companies buy from us in large quantities to give to their workers on regular basis. They do not deduct it from the workers’ salaries.

How long have the Pocari Sweat sachets been available?

Pocari Sweat has been available in the UAE for more than 20 years now, although industrial packaging has only been available for the last two years.

Have sales increased over the last few years?

Yes we have seen a tremendous increase in demand from the time we introduced Pocari Sweat Powder Sachets in the market. The construction boom is now in full swing. Many experts on health and safety have arrived in the UAE from all over the world, so awareness is higher than ever before.
We have done our bit by conducting about a hundred seminars on various subjects such as: 1) Importance of
proper hydration; 2) Prevention of heat illnesses; 3) Right
formula for hydration; and 4) Scheduled drinking. Our simple films for the workers explain the importance of preventive care.

We also have posters, leaflets and a website(www.safeworkeruae.com) that explains all the aspects of this subject. This awareness drive has helped many construction companies. The response has been tremendous but it is difficult to quantify.

As far as the quality of response is concerned there is a definite shift in the minds of health and safety professionals and that is a real achievement. ||**||

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