Working outdoors in high temps? What you need to know about occupational heat exposure

Several cities in Georgia saw record-setting high temperatures for May over Memorial Day Weekend, according to reports by The Weather Channel. For those who work outside, such high temperatures represent a serious risk of workplace illness. Employers in construction, agriculture, and other fields where workers spend a large portion of their day outside have a responsibility to provide workers with the resources they need to avoid heat-related illness.

Here is what workers need to know about spotting the symptoms of heat exposure, and how they may qualify for workers’ compensation:

Spotting heat-related illness

Heat illness comes in a variety of forms, the most serious of which is heat stroke. If not treated quickly, heat stroke can result in death. Symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Hot, dry skin
  • Extreme sweating
  • Dizziness or loss of consciousness

Symptoms of other heat-related illnesses include muscle cramps, headaches, and weakness.

Workers’ compensation for occupational heat exposure

Generally, workers can make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits for any injury or illness stemming from their job. OSHA began a campaign in recent years to make employers more aware of the risks of heat stroke and what they can do to protect employees, including:

  • Ensure employees have adequate rest, shade and water
  • Monitoring workers for signs of heat exhaustion or illness
  • Giving new employees more frequent breaks

If your work caused or aggravated heat stroke or another heat-related illness, you could be entitled to compensation. However, employers sometimes try to attribute heat-related illness to preexisting factors. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help workers advocate for their rights and achieve the compensation they deserve.

 

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