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On-the-job injuries due to heat can be deadly in summer months

As the summer months begin temperatures are already approaching triple digits in some parts of the country. Orange County will undoubtedly encounter hot weather during the next few months.

For workers whose job duties include outside activities, these conditions can cause serious illness and even death. Over the last decade, more than 30 workers on average in the United States have died from heat-related illnesses each year.

Federal and California occupational safety and health officials provide information on the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness to help workers and their supervisors recognize heat exhaustion and heat stroke before they become serious or deadly. Some of the occupations and industries that are of particular concern are agriculture, construction, police officers, parking lot attendants, and delivery workers. 

Employers who do not provide safe working conditions for their employees may face consequences.

Safety officials also warn that people with certain preexisting illnesses, such as diabetes, may be more susceptible to heat-related symptoms. Many of these conditions may result in significant time off from work with workers’ compensation benefits replacing lost wages.

While workers should be responsible for their own health precautions while at work, supervisors can also take steps to help prevent illness in hot conditions. If schedules are flexible, work can start earlier in the day, even at dawn, when temperatures are cooler. They can also help workers acclimate to the conditions, allowing new workers to take more breaks during their first few days on the job.

Supervisors should also make water available to workers and encourage them to take frequent water breaks regardless of whether they are thirsty, and allow workers to take frequent breaks out of the sun either indoors or in the shade.

Like many workplace illnesses, preventive action by employers in excessively hot conditions can make a difference in workers’ productivity and health. Preventing heat-related illnesses is in everyone’s best interest and could even save a life.

Source: Yuma Sun, “Heat can kill, work safety agency warns,” Mara Knaub, June 3, 2014

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Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates
505 S. Villa Real
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone: 714-464-6903
Toll Free: 866-543-7598
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