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Beat the Heat at Work

Beat the Heat at Work

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager, Arcata, CA
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)

Beat the Heat a Work

“More than 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but workers in every field are susceptible. ” – Occupational Safety and Health Administration

The summer months can be difficult for some workers and it’s important to remain aware of heat-related dangers in the workplace. Please share the following tips and general information to help raise awareness of heat-related illness in the workplace this summer.

What is Heat-Related Illness?  There are three types of heat-related illnesses:

  1. Heat cramps can occur due to loss of large amounts of salt and water through exertion. Remember to consume plenty of fluids and electrolytes when working in heat.
  2. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body “loses large amounts of water and salt through excessive sweating, particularly through hard physical labor or exercise. This loss of essential fluids can disturb circulation and interfere with brain function. Individuals who have heart, lung, or kidney problems or are on low-sodium diets may be particularly susceptible to heat exhaustion.” as described by WebMD.
  3. Heat stroke is a serious illness that occurs when the “body suffers from long, intense exposure to heat and loses its ability to cool itself. In prolonged, extreme heat, the part of the brain that normally regulates body temperature malfunctions. There is a decreases in the body’s ability to sweat and, therefore, cool down. Those who have certain medical conditions that decrease the body’s ability to sweat — such as scleroderma or cystic fibrosis — may be at greater risk of developing heat stroke.” as described by WebMD.

The most common signs and symptoms of heat related illness include:

  • Confusion
  • Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration)
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Pale skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat

5 Quick Tips to avoid Heat-Related Illness from the Red Cross:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • If possible, wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.

Review OSHA’s “Water. Rest. Shade.” campaign:

Employers must protect workers from known safety workplace hazards, including extreme heat. OSHA suggests employers provide a heat illness prevention program. The following suggestions are directly from OSHA’s “Water. Rest. Shade.” campaign:
1. Provide workers with water, rest and shade.
2. Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build a tolerance for working in the heat.
3. Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention.
4. Monitor workers for signs of illness

Hopefully this information provides a general idea of heat safety in the work place. Be sure to share these tips with your co-workers or employees. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit or Contact Us for more information.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

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5 Healthy Habits for Workplace Coffee Drinkers

5 Healthy Habits for Workplace Coffee Drinkers

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager, Arcata, CA
Produced by:
Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)

5 Healthy Habits for Workplace Coffee Drinkers
Healthy Coffee Habits
1.6 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day.” – International Coffee Organization

Coffee is a popular way to stay alert at work. According to a recent survey, 43 percent of workers say that they are “less productive if they go without coffee.” According to Medical News Today when consumed in moderation, coffee may also have health benefits “from helping prevent diabetes to lowering the risk of liver disease.”

However, too much of anything can have its problems. The Mayo Clinic states: “consuming more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day may lead to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat and even muscle tremors, and even moderate amounts of caffeine may lead to negative health effects.”

Knowing there are both risks and benefits to using coffee in the office or workplace, try the following tips to help you enjoy coffee in a healthy way.

5 Healthy Habits for Workplace Coffee Drinkers:

  1. Bring healthy sugar alternatives from home. Sugar can be a major culprit in the negative side effects of drinking coffee. The USNews suggests: cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla or nut extracts, unsweetened vanilla almond or soy milk, coconut milk, and coconut cream as healthy sugar alternatives.
  2. Choose the best time of day to drink coffee. The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, which may be great for staying alert, but could lead to trouble sleeping or insomnia if you drink too much or drink it too late in the work day. Try only having coffee at the beginning of your work day or see if you can make it until lunch before having your first coffee of the work day.
  3. Eat before you drink coffee. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach may actually be lowering your energy levels for the day. As explains: your body releases insulin in response to caffeine, which causes a drop in blood sugar and leaves you feeling tired. To counter this, you should eat a meal either during or after your coffee consumption.
  4. Determine a healthy caffeine intake for your body. For healthy adults with no medical issues, Caffeine Informer suggests “300mg-400mg of caffeine (1-2 cups of coffee) can be consumed daily without any adverse effects.” However, not everyone is the same and outside factors (pregnancy, for example) should be considered, be sure to consult with your doctor about your needs.
  5. Take your coffee break with your co-workers. According to a MIT study: “employees who take coffee breaks together demonstrate an overall improvement in their productivity. These breaks create a forum within which employees can share both personal and work-related experiences. Allowing employees to take these breaks together showed a lift in overall performance.”

Hopefully these tips can help you enjoy coffee while remaining health conscious. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit or Contact Us for more information.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

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Don’t Overwork Yourself, Listen to Your Body

Don’t Overwork Yourself, Listen to Your Body

By Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Solutions Northwest, Inc. – Arcata, California

Don’t overwork yourself.

According to BYLLP, the Top 5 Work Related Injuries are caused by: Overexertion, Slip and Fall Injuries, Equipment Injury, Motor Vehicle Injury, and Repetitive Motion Injuries.

Our clients at frequently tell us they’ve developed musculoskeletal disorders by pushing themselves too hard. Commonly, the injury is from repetitive motion related to work tasks. Repetitive tasks require us to do the same movements over and over again. It especially becomes a problem when we ignore our body’s warning signals of pain.

Listen to your body.

Our body starts sending stronger and stronger warning signals until we finally pay attention. When we start paying attention we regret letting the pain get to the point it is at.

This is why we need to pay attention to our bodies. Our health should be our number one priority because without it we have nothing. A lot of times we cannot physically do as much as we want to or feel we have to.

We just have to find a way to be at peace with that. Things we want to accomplish will get done eventually, it may just take longer than we would like.

Try some tips from our Ergonomics Blog whenever you’re feeling a little overworked:

For more guidance on all things Ergonomics, visit or Contact Us for more information.

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How Water Relieves the Joints

“If you’ve noticed more joint pain and stiffness as you’ve gotten older, you may be overlooking a critical cause that most people don’t realize can affect joint health: hydration (or lack thereof).”  Dr. Williams
By Celeste McLaughlin, BA, CEOE, CDMS, CPDM

Simple water may be the answer to joint pain
Your body is composed of approximately 55%-60% of water. Water is a building material in every cell. It helps regulate our body temperature, transports carbs and proteins in the bloodstream, flushes out waste products through urination, is a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord, lubricates your joints, the list goes on.

Drink up
Drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day is recommended. For example, if you weight 150 lbs., you should drink 75 oz. of water every day. If it’s hot, or you are exercising you should up your water intake. When drinking something dehydrating such as a caffeinated drink or a glass of alcohol, it is recommended to drink 1.5 oz. of water for every oz. of caffeinated drink or alcohol you’ve consumed.

Signs of Dehydration:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dark under eye circles
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability and confusion
  • Dark colored urine
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Kidney stones
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Shriveled dry skin which lacks elasticity

Water is our friend. Drink up!
Give it a try and you’ll be amazed at the results! For more tips from our ergonomics experts at Solutions Northwest, subscribe to our blog or contact our experts today!

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