This summer is set to be one of the (if not the) hottest on record. Unfortunately, summer isn’t all beaches and tanning. Working outdoors in extreme heat can be incredibly dangerous. The human body needs to maintain a certain temperature, any deviation up or down by a few degrees could be fatal. The body cools off by sweating; unfortunately, in hot and humid environments sweat is insufficient.
Injuries and fatalities due to heat are easily preventable with a few safety tips. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that employers adopt some easy-to-apply rules to improve safety.
First, OSHA recommends that employers allow workers to acclimate to the heat by encouraging them to take it easy the first few hours on a hot day, which allows workers’ bodies to heat up thus gradually avoiding initial shocks that can cause injury.
Second, it recommends that workers drink water every 15 minutes ? even if they are not thirsty. The body will sweat profusely to cool off; therefore workers are losing significant amounts of water. The employer should also give their employees more frequent breaks and to provide shade.
Finally, you are the best defense against heat stroke. Know the signs of heat-related illnesses. Common symptoms include dizziness, cramps, nausea, and headaches. If you notice a combination of these symptoms in a fellow worker, get him out of the heat and alert your safety officer. All employees should be able to identify the signs of heat exhaustion and stroke.
Working in the heat can be incredibly dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken. Your employer should encourage you and your co-workers to follow proper safety procedures when working on hot days. If you believe that you suffered a heat-related injury on the job, then you may have a valid workers’ compensation claim and may want to speak to an attorney. Hopefully, it does not come to this, and you can stay safe, but it is important you always remember your rights, especially if you are unable to work and need replacement income.
Department of Labor, “Preventing More Deaths During a National Heat Wave,” Rhonda Burke, July 25, 2016