Construction projects, road repair, and other outdoor maintenance projects often take place as the weather heats up. Though workers may be out of the elements, including rain and snow, they may also face an additional threat–heat illness.
This summer, OSHA is working to create awareness around the deadly (but often overlooked) risk of heat illness. OSHA’s nationwide initiative, the “Heat Illness Prevention Campaign,” is focused on teaching workers and employers about the potential dangers of hot weather.
Every year, thousands of workers get sick from exposure to heat. In the most severe cases, workers can lose their lives. Our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers have seen a wide range of injuries and illnesses impact the lives of America’s workers. We are dedicated to preventing these accidents and helping victims and their families recover in the event of an injury or death.
Any workers who are exposed to humidity and hot weather could be at risk of heat illness. Workers who work with heavy machinery or who exert an extreme amount of physical energy in hot climates are at additional risk. If you are a worker who does heavy lifting, wears heavy protective clothing, or you work with equipment that projects heat, you should take extra precaution to prevent heat illness. While some workers can build up a tolerance to heat stroke over time, new workers should be especially aware of the risk of how heat may affect their body and remain particularly wary of heat illness symptoms.
What is heat illness? Under extreme heat conditions, sweating is not sufficient to cool down the human body. Workers who are wearing heavy protective gear are unable to effectively cool down. Even workers who are wearing light clothing may not be able to reduce body temperature from dangerous levels.
Heat illnesses can range in severity from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Some cases can cause permanent brain damage and the most severe heat illnesses can result in death. If you suspect that you are suffering from a heat illness you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Similarly, if you suspect that a fellow co-worker is suffering from heat illness, you should take immediate action and call 9-1-1.
There are a number of precautions you can take to prevent heat stroke. OSHA advises the simple formula of water, rest, and shade. Employees and employers should be aware of the dangers of heat illness and take necessary steps to prevent illness and injury. This may include drinking water, taking breaks, and limiting time out in direct sunlight. Employers should implement these prevention tips during training if workers are going to be in the heat for long periods of time.
Since the 2011 launch of the campaign, OSHA has disseminated information to more than 7 million workers and employers. The information has come in the form of posters, cards, and training guides. OSHA aims to prevent these illnesses as well as give employees and employers the information they need to react quickly in the event of heat illness. OSHA has also partnered with other state agencies and organizations to create more awareness around heat illness.
If you are injured on the job in Massachusetts, call Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim– (617) 777-7777.
Boston Workplace Dangers Highlighted, Massachusetts Workers Compensation Lawyer Blog, May 13, 2013