Summer Weather and Heat Illness at Work

Cal/OSHA’s Campaign to Prevent Heat-Related Work Injuries

Do you have a job that requires you to work outside?  While the weather in Southern California is often warm, summertime and its heat waves can result in serious heat illness injuries to construction workers, roofers, agricultural workers, landscapers, athletes, and others who work in particularly hot temperatures.  According to a recent article in Digital Journal, this time of year means that California employers and employees alike “should take steps to prevent heat-related illnesses and injuries.”

Hot Sun

Awareness about heat-related workplace injuries is important in our state, and Cal/OSHA has “launched a campaign to educate workers and employers about the risks of heat illness and ways to stay safe while working outside in hot weather.”  According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the campaign is part of a nationwide one that aims to educate employers and employees about the dangers of working outside in hot weather, particularly in the summertime.

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries while working in the hot summer temperatures in Southern California, you may be able to file a claim for financial compensation.  An experienced San Diego accident lawyer at the Walton Law Firm can take a look at your case today.

Heat Illness Facts and Risks

Heat illnesses routinely afflict employees who work outside and in hot, unforgiving summer temperatures.  What is a heat illness, exactly?  According to OSHA, to understand heat illness, it’s important to understand how the body works to cool itself under normal conditions.  Typically, the body “cools itself by sweating.”  However, when the weather is especially hot, sweating can’t cool the body down sufficiently.  In such cases, body temperatures can “rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken.”  When that happens, some of the following injuries can occur:

  •      Heat rash;
  •      Heat cramps;
  •      Heat exhaustion; and
  •      Heat stroke.

Heat rash and heat cramps typically are minor and can clear up quickly, but they make working difficult and can result in complications such as skin infections or muscle-related injuries.  However, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are very serious and potentially life-threatening conditions that require immediate treatment.

What can workers and employers do to prevent heat illness?  First thing’s first: OSHA emphasizes that employers are responsible for “providing workplaces that are safe from excessive heat.”  In other words, when workers don’t take proper precautions for heat illness, an injured employee may be able to seek compensation for his or her injuries.  For employers to do the right thing under high-temperature conditions, they should make sure that their employees:

  •      Have water to drink;
  •      Have a place to rest in the shade;
  •      Are allowed frequent breaks, especially for new workers or those who haven’t built a tolerance to      hot weather; and
  •      Are educated about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and ways to prevent them.

In order to drive home the seriousness of heat illness, OSHA emphasizes that employees should remember “Water, Rest, Shade” when it comes to working outside during the summer months.  In addition, workers should take the following tips to heart:

  •      Drink water every 15 minutes regardless of whether or not you’re thirsty;
  •      Rest in the shade;
  •      Wear a hat;
  •      Wear light-colored clothing;
  •      Know how to recognize the signs of heat illness; and
  •      Watch out for heat illness signs and symptoms in yourself and in other workers.

Employers have a duty to prevent workers from suffering injuries on the job.  If you’ve suffered injuries at work, contact an experienced work injury lawyer at the Walton Law Firm today.

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Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

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