According to information provided by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), heat illness can become deadly quite quickly. If your body temperature rises to dangerous levels on the job due to not drinking enough water or resting in the shade, you could suffer from the deadly heat exhaustion or heat stroke. In fact, in 2014, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and another 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. However, these illnesses and deaths were completely preventable and you can keep yourself safe on the job, too!
The truth is, it is an employer’s responsibility to protect workers from the health effects of excessive heat. If an employer has employees working in conditions that can expose them to high temperatures, then they should establish a complete heat illness prevention program. This includes providing workers with water, rest, and shade, allowing new workers to increase workloads over time, planning for emergencies and training workers on prevention, and monitoring workers for signs of illness.
To prevent heat illness, workers should drink water every 15 minutes, rest in the shade to cool down, wear a hat, and learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency. Any worker can be exposed to hot and humid conditions to be at risk of heat illness. New workers, temporary workers, or those returning to work after a break may be most at risk for developing issues related to heat illness. Some of the most affected industries include construction, transportation and utilities, agriculture, and landscaping services.
Unfortunately, many employers have lawsuits brought against them each year due to the effects of heat illness. For instance, in 2015 a Charleston roofing contractor was cited after a worker became hospitalized for heat-related illness while working at the State Capitol Complex. OSHA cited the company under a general duty clause for exposing employees to heat stress conditions. The worker had been working outdoors in direct sunlight for approximately five hours in 90 degree Fahrenheit conditions before he was exposed to the excessive heat. OSHA’s director in Charleston said about the matter, “When the heat index is high, it is critical for employers to acclimatize workers so they gradually adjust to working in hot temperatures.”
What happens if you were exposed to excessive heat on the job and experienced ill effects due to it? Can you receive workers’ compensation benefits? There are many dangers that come with being exposed to excessive heat for long periods of time, and many times when employers are found to be responsible for these injuries and illnesses. In many cases, you will be able to receive workers’ compensation if an injury was caused by or aggravated for your work duties or the condition in your workplace. If you want to obtain workers’ compensation for a heat illness, you must be able to prove that having to work outside in the heat actually caused your injury in full.
Yes, employers must remember worker safety when workers are completing jobs outdoors in the scorching heat of the summer. This is why OSHA has implemented many protections for workers, to keep them safe and happy during the summer months. If you believe you have a case, call us today. We will help you obtain the compensation you need after you have received an on-the-job injury or illness.