Guide to Preventing Heat-Related Injuries On-the-Job - Catalano Law

Guide to Preventing Heat-Related Injuries On-the-Job

Heat-related injuries are a serious concern in many workplaces, especially those involving physical labor and outdoor work during the warmer months. Workers in construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and other physically demanding industries are particularly at risk.

Exposure to high temperatures and humidity, direct sun exposure, physical exertion, and lack of proper hydration can lead to various heat-related illnesses and injuries. These can range from mild conditions like heat cramps to more severe and potentially life-threatening conditions such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Creating a safe work environment is a shared responsibility between employers and employees. Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and implement strategies to prevent these conditions. Working with a workplace injury attorney can help you seek appropriate compensation if you suffer from a workplace illness related to heat.

Heat Dangers for Outdoor Workers

Anyone can get sick from heat-related injuries, but employees who work in extreme heat are especially vulnerable. Strenuous physical labor, hot environments, and wearing clothing that traps body heat put workers at risk of suffering heat-related illnesses.

When workers are exposed to intense heat without prior acclimatization, their bodies may struggle to cope with the heat stress, causing a high risk of heat-related illnesses and deaths. Approximately 9,235 people are hospitalized every year because of the heat, with 702 deaths on average.

Signs of a Heat-Related Illness

Recognizing the signs of heat-related illness is the first step toward preventing serious complications. The symptoms often start mild but can become severe if left untreated. Heat-related conditions and their symptoms include:

Symptoms include dry or hot skin, dizziness, a high body temperature (above 103°F), rapid heartbeat, headache, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Immediate medical attention is required for heat stroke.

Symptoms include heavy sweating, pale or clammy skin, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, and fainting. Heat exhaustion requires prompt attention and should be treated by moving to a cooler environment, resting, and rehydrating.

Symptoms include muscle pain or tightness, visible muscle contractions, and excessive sweating. Resting in a cool place, stretching, and rehydrating with electrolyte-rich fluids help alleviate heat cramps.

How to Prevent Heat-Related Injuries On-the-Job

Preventing heat-related injuries on the job is a multi-faceted process requiring proactive measures from employers and employees. Employers should foster a work culture where safety is prioritized, and workers feel comfortable speaking up about unsafe conditions.

The following are important steps to help keep workers safe and prevent heat illnesses:

Know Your Rights: Employer’s Duty to Prevent Heat-Related Injuries

Your employer has a legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment. This includes taking reasonable steps to prevent heat-related illnesses in the workplace.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), employers must identify potential hazards that could cause harm to employees, such as high heat conditions, and take action to mitigate these risks.

Employers must provide access to sufficient drinking water, allowing for adequate rest periods, and ensure workers have access to shaded areas, especially when working in high-heat conditions. Employers should also implement heat illness prevention programs that teach workers to recognize, prevent, and treat heat illnesses.

Consult a Workplace Injury Attorney After a Heat-Related Illness

Working in extreme heat can be challenging, but understanding the risks and taking preventative measures can reduce the potential for heat-related injuries. Remember, your employer has a responsibility to provide safe working conditions.

If you feel your rights are being overlooked or you’ve suffered a heat-related injury at work, contact an attorney at Catalano Law for a complimentary case review. We can review the details of your case and determine if you can file for compensation for your damages.

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