Summer means plenty of outdoor work for employees across a wide variety of industries, from construction to law enforcement and beyond. For the many employees who work outdoors, summer not only brings an uptick in work but also an increased risk of suffering heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses an injuries.
The hot sun is not something to be taken lightly, and both employers and employees need to understand just how high-risk heatstroke and related health issues can be. Workers could suffer permanent impairment or be killed because of too much exposure to hear.
A Boston workers’ compensation lawyer can represent employees and their families when heat-related injuries cause health problems or fatalities. If the injury is work-related, or attributed to the employee’s job duties, the injured worker should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and the families of deceased employees should be able to obtain death benefits.
OSHA Works to Prevent Heat-Related Workplace Injuries and Fatalities
Last summer, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a campaign aimed at preventing heat-related injuries among workers. OSHA launched the campaign because 2,630 workers got sick and 18 workers died in a single year from heat stroke and related injuries on-the-job. These types of tragic incidents do not have to happen, and employers are expected to protect workers from harm due to excess heat just as they must protect workers from being hurt by other work hazards.
OSHA reminds employers they should have a “complete heat illness prevention program” and they should take steps including:
- Ensuring employees working outdoors in hot environments have plenty of rest breaks.
- Making sure workers have access to water when working outdoors.
- Providing access to shade or the opportunity for workers to go to a shady or cool space for breaks when working outdoors.
- Letting new workers or returning workers gradually increase their work loads in hot environments and allowing newer or returning workers to take more breaks as their bodies build up more tolerance to working in hot environments.
- Creating a plan to respond to emergency situations, such as when an employee shows signs of overheating like being disoriented.
- Monitoring workers for signs they may be having an adverse reaction to heat.
OSHA also has tips for employees who are working on hot environments. While it is the responsibility of employers to provide training and to keep workers safe, those who are doing work outdoors should also ensure they don’t make mistakes that could jeopardize their safety.
Workers should drink at least some water every 15 minutes, even if they are not feeling thirsty. Taking frequent rest breaks in the shade and working up to adjusting to hot outdoor work is also advised. Workers should also wear light colors and a hat, should know the signs of heat-related health issues and should monitor both themselves and their co-workers for signs there is a problem.
If both workers and employers are aware of risks of heat injury and take steps to prevent problems, hopefully fewer illnesses and fatalities will occur over the course of the upcoming summer work season.
If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
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Report: Three Workers Burned in Natural Gas Explosion, Feb. 18, 2017, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog