Arcadian Nutraceuticals founder John Morris has been working closely with health and safety officers at two major Queensland underground coal mines.
He is trying to help workers adopt a healthier approach to maintaining electrolyte balance and managing the associated risks of fatigue and dehydration.
Morris recognised the parallels between ironman triathletes using Recovery e21 Electrolyte Balance in the gruelling heat and humidity of Hawaii with coal miners working in the hot and humid conditions of Queensland and New South Wales.
The difference being ironman events are over in less than a day.
Miners work exhausting seven-to-10-day rotations of up to 11 hour shifts.
In August Morris introduced the athletic supplement Recovery e21 Electrolyte Balance to the mining industry as a natural, calorie-free product to assist in fatigue and hydration management.
He has overseen the product’s trial and has been delighted with the results the miners have experienced so far.
Since its introduction into the workforce Recovery e21 has already delivered improvements in dehydration and fatigue symptoms at both the mines.
“We initially hoped Recovery e21 would assist with heat stress and address the electrolyte imbalance that comes with physical exertion and working in hot mining environments,” Morris told Australian Longwall Magazine.
“But what we have seen through these trials is that there are major benefits in other areas too.
“The miners are experiencing increased concentration and feeling more mentally alert. They also found they were getting fewer muscle cramps and had increased stamina, allowing them to work harder.
“It’s encouraging to see mines seeking a holistic
approach to employee’s health and safety.
“After only a month on Recovery e21 the results spoke for themselves. The miners had experienced a huge decrease in their levels of fatigue. They reported feeling less hungry, less thirsty, and their muscle cramps had gone.”
Morris asked the miners to complete hydration surveys before the trials so that he could compare the effects of Recovery e21 after a month of use.
“Heat stress and fatigue were identified as problems, and many of the miners were reporting extreme symptoms including tiredness, headaches, thirst and hunger,” he said.
“After just one month taking e21 we saw a reduction in those symptoms, which is a result we are very happy with.”
The results were compiled and analysed independently by Dr Beth Steels of Applied Science and Nutrition.
Of the miners surveyed, 95% said they wished to continue using the supplement daily.
Steels’ analysis revealed that of the seven key fatigue indicators miners experienced a 25% reduction in sweating, 37% reduction of thirst, 41% reduction in dry mouth, 57% reduction in muscle weakness, 57% reduction in tiredness, 48% reduction in hunger and a 37% improvement in urine colour.
Morris said the main benefit of Recovery e21 was that it contained all the micro-nutrients essential for optimum muscle and neural function and hydration.
The recommended dose of Recovery e21 for miners provides 45% of the RDI of elemental magnesium to prevent cramping and induce muscle relaxation.
“To keep the body’s muscular, digestive, nervous, and cardiac systems ‘firing on all cylinders’ a miner needs a consistent supply of all electrolytic minerals and salts, not just sodium and potassium as found in most other commercial products,” Morris said.
“Miners require greater volumes of electrolytes than can be delivered by any sports drink or gel. Recovery e21 fuels the body with a balanced, natural full-spectrum, rapidly absorbed electrolyte source.”
Recovery e21 contains the full spectrum of 114 minerals and salts derived naturally from marine micro algae.
Morris said e21 was sugar free, fat free and preservative free. “It’s lactose and vegan friendly, and contains no synthetic ingredients,” he said.
This appealed to the mines’ health and safety officers, who wanted to look at alternatives to sugar-based energy drinks.
Morris was concerned by the availability and excessive consumption of unhealthy, sugary energy drinks he had observed on many mine sites.
“By only offering these sugar-based energy drinks, employers are setting their employees up for serious health consequences later in life,” he said.
“Workplace health and safety is not just about preventing problems now; we need to think about employee health later in life as well. These miners could develop type 2 diabetes down the track if they continue to use high-sugar energy sources.”
During the initial baseline survey, a large group of miners reported experiencing the initial symptoms of dehydration – tiredness, sweating and thirst.
Many of these miners also experienced the more advanced symptoms of dehydration such as muscle weakness and a dry mouth.
Another alarming indication related to fluid intake. It was found there were insufficient amounts of water being consumed, and a high prevalence of “energy” drinks, contributing to an unhealthy daily intake of calories.
“The underground mines are intensely hot environments to work in, especially on the mine face where the machinery contributes to the heat,” Morris said.
“Anyone doing hard, physical work in an environment like that is going to be sweating excessively and losing electrolytes. Recovery e21 is a natural means of replacing lost electrolytes and keeping the miners’ bodies balanced in this extreme environment.”
The mines have observed a reduction in personal injuries among their underground workforces during the trial, according to Morris. “The health and safety officers have observed a turnaround in safety performance,” he said.
“To hear of a decline in the number of personal injuries on these sites in such a short period of time is a wonderful result, and I think that Recovery e21 has played a role in this outcome by improving people’s concentration, as well as their overall stamina and mental alertness.
“Battling fatigue in long shifts over extended rotations is the challenge all mines now face and we are delighted that Recovery e21 has become accepted as a major technique in addressing the challenge.”