Protect Outside Workers in the Heat

June 11, 2018

Summer is quickly approaching and temperatures across the country are continuing to rise. Workers who are out in the heat are at risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses if proper precautions are not taken. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have standards specifically related to working in the heat, employers are still obligated to protect workers from recognized workplace hazards, including the heat.

Common Heat-Related Illnesses

Each year, thousands of workers become ill, and hundreds fatally injured, from working in extremely hot or humid conditions. Workers in all fields are at risk. However, the construction industry is particularly vulnerable, accounting for over 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths.

Some common heat-related illnesses include:

  • Heat cramps: Muscle cramps caused by the loss of body fluids and salts due to excessive sweating.
  • Heat exhaustion: Headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness caused by loss of water and salt from sweating.
  • Heat stroke: Serious illness that develops when the body is unable to regulate its core temperature, often resulting in confusion, loss of consciousness, and seizures.
  • Heat rash: Skin irritation caused by unevaporated sweat.

OSHA’s Heat-Related Illness Prevention Campaign

OSHA launched a Heat Illness Prevention campaign in 2011 to educate workers and employers about the dangers of working in the heat. OSHA’s message centers around three important words – water, rest, and shade. These three components are essential to the safety of outdoor workers.

Employers are encouraged to establish a heat illness prevention program that provides workers with water, rest, and shade. The program should also allow workers to gradually increase their workloads and take frequent breaks as they adjust to working in the heat. Employers should also regularly monitor workers for any sign of heat-related illness.

Preventing Heat-Related Illness

Preventative measures can be taken by both employers and workers. Employers can implement engineering controls, such as air conditioning and increased ventilation, to make the work environment cooler. They can also provide water to employees and encourage them to keep hydrated and take frequent breaks, until they build up their tolerance for working in the heat.

Workers who are in hot and humid indoor or outdoor environments, as well as those who are performing heavy work tasks and those who wear heavy protective clothing, are at greater risk of heat-related illness due to their job. New workers and those returning from time away are also at risk and should be given ample time to acclimate to high temperatures.

Workers who suffer heat-related work injuries should contact a knowledgeable work injury lawyer as soon as possible, because they may be entitled to pursue a workers’ compensation claim.

Philadelphia Work Injury Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Workers Suffering from Heat-Related Illnesses

If you or a loved one is suffering from a heat-related illness due to your work, contact an experienced Philadelphia work injury lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expenses and lost wages. Our experienced attorneys have over 35 years of experience navigating the workers’ compensation system in Pennsylvania and we can help you get the compensation you deserve. We represent injured workers throughout Pennsylvania, including in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County. Call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form for a free consultation.

Our legal team provides skilled representation to those residing in and around AbingtonAmblerArdmoreBala CynwydBensalemClifton HeightsCrum Lynne, DarbyDowningtownDoylestownDrexel HillEssington, FolcroftGlenolden, HaverfordHavertownHolmesKutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion StationMorton, Narberth, Norristown, NorwoodPhiladelphiaProspect Park, QuakertownReadingRoxboroughSharon HillUpper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.