Written by : Shahana Raza
Ramadan – sacred month in the Islamic Calendar. Observed as a month of fasting; fasting during this month is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
Fasting means abstinence To stop eating, drinking & smoking from dawn until dusk For those who are not fasting, please be considerate and avoid eating, drinking or smoking in front of colleagues who are fasting.
During this month we do not keep our usual eating, sleeping, exercising or socializing hours. If not managed, these changes put additional stress on the body, causing fatigue and diminishing our ability to perform tasks. Although the possible effects are relatively mild and rarely serious, they should be recognized to ensure that a serious situation does not develop.
Common effects of fasting:
Low blood sugar occurs when the sugar (glucose) in the blood drops to a lower than normal level
Dehydration occurs when the amount of water in the body falls below normal, which can disrupt the balance of sugars and salts (electrolytes)
What we might feel: tired, irritable, headaches, faint or light-headed, hunger, decreased concentration, sleep deprivation, nausea and dehydration
High risk times During Ramadan, exposure to safety risks will mainly increase during the following timings • While Driving • before and after midday • the first few days & the last 10 days of the month • near the end of the work day • When activity levels are high in our work area
Important! Before and after midday is when you are more at risk due to not eating or drinking leading to tiredness and fatigue
Sleeping habits often change during Ramadan • We may stay up late at night or get up early in the morning for Suhoor• Please note that seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is important to everyone’s health and well-being
- Drink sufficient water between Iftar and sleep to avoid dehydration
- At Iftar, have a very light meal first (e.g.: dates and juices or soup)
- Consume sufficient vegetables at meals. Eat fruits with high water content at the end of the meal (i.e. watermelon, orange, strawberry)
- Avoid intake of high sugar (table sugar, sucrose) foods through sweets or other forms
- Avoid hot & spicy foods • Avoid fried foods
- Avoid too salty foods – retain water in our body – give you the feeling of being bloated
- Avoid caffeine drinks such as sodas, coffee or tea
- Three days to five days before Ramadan gradually reduce the intake of these drinks. A sudden decrease in caffeine prompts headaches, mood swings and irritability
- Avoid over-eating during or between Iftar and Suhoor; health problems can emerge as a result of excess food intake which can ‘clog’ our digestive system
- Avoid tea at Suhoor (Dawn) – Tea increases salt excretion in the urine, which is needed for our body during fasting
- Many people eat a late night meal and sleep through till the dawn prayers. This is not advisable
Ramadan work timings are adjusted to compensate for the fasting
- Extended working times can lead to problems and there have been accidents attributed to fasting and extended work hours during Ramadan Ø fainting Ø fatigue Ø decreased concentration
- Watch our workloads carefully. Where high risks exist, additional control measures need to be put in place:
Use shifts where possible to meet deadlines effectively and safely , plan our demanding activities in the morning when we are more alert, minimize driving later in the day – double up on drivers where needed , ensure tool box talks, safety meetings and pre-job preparations discuss and understand the hazards STOP WORK: where we think it is unsafe
Note: Report any signs or symptoms of fatigue or other health issues to our local health team or doctor
Be a safe driver:
The biggest safety challenge during Ramadan is driving, due to drivers being tired and fatigued. Following procedures (seat belt, vehicle check, etc.) Ø not speeding , Ø being a defensive driver , Ø avoiding unnecessary journeys.
Try to avoid:
Ø Driving during peak hours , Driving in congested traffic areas long drives
Once you feel fatigue there is nothing you can do except STOP at a safe place away from the road as soon as possible and take a break.
(M.Phil OHS ) (Punjab University Lahore )