Although heat-related work injuries are preventable, many workers succumb to injury and illness brought on by occupational heat exposure. Employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace, and workers should know their rights regarding heat exposure. Below are some of the most FAQs regarding heat-related work injuries.
Who Is at Risk?
Heat exposure can occur indoors and outdoors, not only during a heat wave. Some at-risk workers include agricultural workers, bakery workers, boiler room workers, construction workers, delivery drivers, factory workers, firefighters, landscapers, roofers, utility workers, and warehouse workers.
What Are Some Common Types of Heat-Related Illnesses?
- Heat rash: Caused by excessive sweating.
- Heat cramps: Painful spasms in the abdomen, arms, and legs caused by low salt and moisture levels in the body.
- Heat syncope: Fainting or dizziness from dehydration.
- Heat exhaustion: Headaches, nausea, weakness, and elevated body temperature brought on by excessive sweating.
- Heat stroke: The most severe form of heat illness when the body can no longer regulate its temperature and cool down. A person experiencing heat stroke can suffer permanent disability or death without emergency treatment.
What Are the Risk Factors for Heat-Related Illness?
Some workers may have an elevated risk for heat-related illness due to the following conditions: obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, use of certain medications that may be affected by extreme heat, alcohol consumption, lack of physical fitness, and previous episodes of heat-related illness.
How Does Heat Increase the Risk of Injury?
In addition to causing illnesses, heat increases the risk of work injuries through fogged-up safety glasses, sweaty palms, and dizziness.
How Can Heat-Related Illness Be Prevented?
Many things can be done to help keep employees safe in hot environments. Any worker who has not spent time recently in a hot environment must build up a tolerance to heat. Most outdoor fatalities occur in the first few days of working in hot environments because there is no gradual build-up of tolerance to heat over time.
Additionally, workers should take frequent breaks in the shade for hydration, work early when temperatures are cooler, slow physical activity during the hottest times, and work shortened shifts on days with excessive temperatures. Indoor environments should have fans or air conditioning to cool air and increase airflow.
Training and educating workers on the dangers of heat exposure, symptoms of heat-related illness, and first aid treatment are crucial for safety. After being trained to recognize heat-related illness symptoms, like dizziness, headaches, weakness, exhaustion, irritability, confusion, and slurred speech, workers should use the buddy system to keep each other safe while working in hot environments.
Monmouth County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Offices of Michael S. Williams Fight for Workers Who Suffer Heat-Related Injuries
Workers’ compensation may cover heat-related work injuries. For help, contact our Monmouth County workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Michael S. Williams. Call 732-351-2800 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We are located in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. We serve clients in the Shrewsbury, Tinton Falls, and Monmouth County areas and throughout the state.