Summer brings many risks for outdoor workers, with thousands becoming sick each year as a result of exposure to excess heat. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a new campaign to prevent heat illness in outdoor workers in order to reduce the chances of illness or fatalities.
Employers need to be aware of the risks of heat illness and should do everything they can to protect their employees. Workers in the field also need to follow safety precautions to avoid endangering themselves due to the summer sun and hot temperatures. If a worker gets sick on-the-job due to heat exposure, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help the employee to pursue a benefits claim.
Preventing Heat Illness On-the-Job
Sweating is the mechanism by which the body cools itself so your temperature does not reach dangerous levels. Unfortunately, with high humidity and excess summer heat, sweating may not be enough. A person whose temperature climbs too high could suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke and could potentially die of heat stroke without prompt medical treatment.
OSHA recommends that employers establish a complete heat-illness prevention program in order to make sure staff members do not get sick on the job. The program should:
- Ensure workers are provided with fresh water so they can drink frequently.
- Provide time for rest and ensure workers have access to shaded areas so they can get out of the sun and cool off.
- Increase workloads gradually for new workers or for those who have been away for at least a week in order to allow for acclimatization. Acclimatization means slowly building up a tolerance for working in the heat.
- Modify work schedules as needed to minimize or avoid labor-intensive outdoor work on the hottest days.
- Plan for emergencies in case a worker becomes ill as a result of the excess heat.
- Monitor workers for signs of illness.
Workers also have a role to play in ensuring they do not get sick from excess heat. Workers should:
- Have a drink of water at least once every 15 minutes even if they are not thirsty.
- Take time to rest in the shade in order to cool down.
- Wear light-colored clothing and a hat in order to minimize exposure to direct sunlight.
- Watch out for fellow workers in order to make sure no one gets sick.
- Take it easy on the first day working in the heat until your body gets adjusted.
Any worker who is exposed to hot conditions could potentially be at risk of heat illness, but those who wear bulky protective equipment or do heavy work tasks are in the greatest danger of developing heat illness. Top industries where the most heat-related illnesses occur include landscaping, ground maintenance, oil and gas support workers, transportation and utilities workers and construction.
New and temporary workers who are not yet adjusted also face dangers, and every employee is at risk when a heat wave comes because their bodies may not be as used to the elevated temperatures.
If you have suffered a work injury in New York, contact the Law Offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP today by calling (800) 692-3717 or by visiting http://www.workerslaw.com. Attorney advertising.