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The Importance of Breaks at Work

14th January 2011
By 1million2012 in Employment Law
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It's important for employees to take regular breaks at work, for health and safety reasons. The employment agreement should specify the details of the worker's breaks. This can cover the length and frequency of breaks and whether they are paid or unpaid. Not all breaks need to be long sometimes just a few minutes can be all that is needed.

Workers need breaks that enable them to be alert on their jobs. Not taking breaks can lead to fatigue which can cause mistakes and even physical harm. When fatigued concentration levels go down which can result in errors. Muscle fatigue can result in loss of strength which in turn can cause accidents when a worker takes on a job that he is normally capable of.

If a worker does not stop to have regular drinks dehydration will result. This is particularly relevant in summer. Dehydration can cause severe health problems and can cause symptoms which can negatively impact on the worker’s performance and safety. These symptoms include elevated heart beat, sleepiness, irritability and disorientation. Judgement can be impaired as a result.

People should drink regularly, and not only when they feel thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. Most jobs do have small pauses in which to have a drink, and perhaps something small to eat. This can often be incorporated into stops to refuel, reload or open gates. You will stay hydrated if you drink small amounts of water regularly. Water is the best drink to keep you hydrated. Although a beer may feel thirst quenching the alcohol it contains will actually dehydrate you further as it acts as a diuretic.

Make sure to have some longer breaks for meals during the day. Workers might not feel very hungry when it's hot, but they will have much more energy if they eat food. If you can, provide a cool, shady, pleasant place for breaks. If possible allow workers to take breaks together so that they can socialise and build rapport which will improve both morale and productivity.

It is a good idea to schedule work of higher intensity to be done earlier in the day when it is cooler. First thing in the morning is often best when workers are fresh. If there is outside work, try to arrange for it to be under shade.

Fatigue and deydration happen more often over summer. This is often the time that young seasonal workers are hired. They will often not be experienced and also, although often young and strong, they will not be accustomed to working the hours and intensity that is required. They might also feel that they can't ask for a break when they need it. It is important to make sure that young workers are aware of their rights and how to keep themselves and fellow workers safe and healthy. Help your workers by instituting a buddy system for all your workers, so they can watch for the signs of fatigue and dehydration in each other. It's especially important for the younger workers to have a buddy for this purpose.

Make sure that your workplace has clear, practical safety guidelines that each worker understands and complies with. Provide information and training to all new workers with regular revision. Supervision is a vital element of a safe workplace. Know what the dangers in the workplace are, and take them seriously, even the minor ones.

It is the employer’s duty to provide and maintain a safe environment for employees. {Providing adequate breaks to ensure that the workers remain hydrated and sufficiently rested will go a long way towards creating a safe and healthy workplace.|One very important aspect of maintaining a safe and healthy workplace is to make sure that workers are always

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