Newcrest strives to solve staff dehydration

Telfer. Image: Newcrest Mining.

Newcrest Mining is looking into new ways to keep workers hydrated after a random urine test revealed that many staff didn’t start the day with adequate hydration levels.

The company has partnered with Australian start-up community Unearthed to find a solution for hydration monitoring at the Telfer gold-copper mines in Pilbara, Western Australia.

Newcrest and Unearthed are running a competition labelled ‘Stay hydrated: improving hydration monitoring at Telfer’, in which start-ups will compete for an investment of $10,000 to develop a solution.

The initiative follows a recent random urine hydration test which sampled 30 per cent of approximately 500 shutdown workers in the morning prior to the day shift.

It found that three per cent were dehydrated and had to be stood down from work or needed further medical attention and up to one-third of all workers didn’t start the day with sufficient levels of hydration.

The Telfer gold operation in the Great Sandy Desert is often exposed to extreme outside temperatures in excess of 40 degrees, with maximum temperatures reaching 50 degrees.

Workers are often on 12-hour shifts and dehydration can often impact cognitive functions and decrease decision-making abilities.

While self-testing hydration urine test strips are available in toilets, an inherent issue has been that it requires a toilet for testing to occur.

This makes it necessary for the person who requires a test to leave the job site to carry it out, meaning people aren’t testing as often as the company would like.

The company reported it tried portable electronic refractometers for urine testing but had problems as it also required the use of a toilet.

Applications will be judged on the basis of the accuracy of monitoring, the readiness of the product to be introduced and how effectively it will work with the company’s existing infrastructure.

Three winners will be selected and will be mentored by Newcrest’s senior safety adviser, Troy Reynolds.