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Workplace Safety- Heat Stress Injuries

susan_harr5 years ago

Every year about 400 Americans die from heat stroke (WebMD). Many of these victims are workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments.

“When the human body is unable to maintain a normal temperature, heat-related illnesses can occur and may result in death,” Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Dangers of Heat Stress

Heat stress can cause the following heat-related illnesses. Information below provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

Heat stroke– Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature regulating system fails and body temperature rises above 104°. The signs of heat stroke are confusion, loss of consciousness, and seizures. Heat stroke can lead to death.

Heat exhaustion– The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion are headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, confusion, thirst, heavy sweating, and a body temperature greater than 100.4°F.

Heat cramps– Heat cramps are muscle pains usually caused by physical labor in a hot work environment.

Heat rashes– Heat rash is a skin condition caused by sweating and looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters.

Who is at Risk?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), workers at the greatest risk of heat stress include those who are 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat. Additionally, workers involved in operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for inducing heat stress (OSHA).

Heat stress is dangerous for everyone, but can be especially harmful to workers because it can also lead to dizziness, sweaty palms, and loss of consciousness during dangerous work-related activities. Workers in the following fields are particularly prone to heat-induced illness and/or injury: 

  • Firefighters
  • Outdoor workers
  • Construction workers
  • Bakery workers
  • Kitchen Employees
  • Farmers
  • Miners
  • Smelters
  • Boiler room workers
  • Factory workers
  • Iron and steel foundry workers

Prevention Tips for Employers

Employers are responsible for the safety of their employees. From the training room to the job site, employers must stress the risks of heat-related illness and ensure that their employees are properly protected. Tips for employers provided by the CDC: 

  • Schedule maintenance and repair jobs in hot areas for cooler months.
  • Schedule hot jobs for the cooler part of the day.
  • Acclimatize workers by exposing them for progressively longer periods to hot work environments.
  • Reduce the physical demands of workers.
  • Use relief workers or assign extra workers for physically demanding jobs.
  • Provide cool water or liquids to workers.
  • Provide cool areas for use during break periods.
  • Monitor workers who are at risk of heat stress.
  • Provide heat stress training that includes information about risks, prevention, and treatment.
Contact an Experienced Workplace Injury Attorney

Thomas J. Henry fight to protect the rights of workplace injury victims. If you have been injured while on the job or if your employer has not put the safety of its employees first, contact Thomas J. Henry. The goal of our offices is to not only protect your rights, but to send a message to your employer so the same tragedy does not happen again.

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