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Keeping Workers Safe in the Heat

During the sweltering temperatures of the summer months, the cool, air-conditioned indoors offer much needed comfort. Yet for many American workers, whose jobs require them to stay outdoors for long periods of time in all types of weather, there is no relief from the grueling heat.

Every year thousands of American workers become sick and even die from heat-related illness. More than 40 percent of heat-related worker fatalities occur in the construction industry, but all workers are vulnerable to the dangers of extreme heat. Employers need to take active steps to increase awareness of heat-illness and protect employees who work under extreme temperatures.

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have specific protocols for working in hot conditions, they do hold employers responsible for protecting workers from known and recognized on-the-job hazards, including extreme heat. Workers who suffer a job-related illness or injury may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Heat Illness

Prolonged exposure to high temperatures, combined with high humidity and strenuous physical activity, can lead to heat exhaustion, a condition where the body literally overheats. Without immediate treatment, heat exhaustion may develop into heatstroke, a potentially fatal condition.

Signs of heat exhaustion may include:

  • Dizziness

  • Faintness

  • Headache

  • Heavy sweating

  • Moist, cool skin, possibly with goose bumps

  • Muscle cramps

  • Nausea

  • Weak, rapid pulse

Heat Illness Prevention Campaign

In 2011, OSHA launched an initiative called the Heat Illness Prevention Campaign, which integrates training programs, public events, and social media outreach to educate business owners and employees on how to stay safe in the heat.

A basic workplace heat illness prevention campaign should:

  • Allow new or returning workers to gradually acclimatize to the heat.

  • Provide an emergency plan for workers who become ill.

  • Monitor workers for signs of distress.

  • Provide employees with ample rest, shade, and water.

  • Train workers on heat illness prevention.

It is not just outdoor jobs that put workers at risk of heat illness. Chemical plants, boiler rooms, kitchens, factories, and laundries all face a high risk of causing heat related illness. When workers come in contact with hot objects or perform physically strenuous tasks, their risk of heat exhaustion increases.

Employers are expected to protect their employees from heat illness and serious, permanent injury with training, safety protocols, regular breaks and water.

New Brunswick Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at The Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Fight on Behalf of Injured Workers

Workers who become ill or injured on the job should document the incident immediately. Acting in a timely manner is crucial to any Workers’ Compensation claim. Your employer and their insurance carrier may try to dispute your claim. It is smart to enlist a New Brunswick workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. We focus on the details of your claim, so you can rest and recover. To schedule a free consultation, call 732-537-8570 or complete the online contact form.

Our offices are located in Highland Park, New Jersey, and we serve clients in Middlesex County, including the communities of Highland Park, Somerset, New Brunswick, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, and throughout New Jersey.

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