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The work-related dangers of summer heat in California

While summer in California can be fun, it can be hazardous for workers in many different occupations. It is not only employees whose jobs keep them outdoors who are at risk, but also those in factories, warehouses and distribution centers where indoor temperatures can reach dangerous levels. Any operations that involve radiant heat sources, excessive humidity levels and high air temperatures can cause heat-related illness, and if the job also requires strenuous physical activities, the risk is even higher.

Statistics indicate that thousands of workers suffer heat-related illnesses every summer, and numerous heat stroke deaths occur annually. Sadly, employers can prevent many of these occupational illnesses and fatalities, but many fail to establish comprehensive prevention programs to protect employees from the heat.

What are heat related illnesses?

Prolonged exposure to heat requires your body to rush blood -- that would normally go to your muscles and organs such as your brain -- to your skin. Starving your organs from blood can interfere with your mental capacity and physical strength, and if you do not receive proper treatment immediately, it could be fatal.

What are the warning signs?

Looking out for telltale signs of heat stroke, heat cramps or heat exhaustion may save your life. If you spend your days working in intense heat -- from the sun or any other heat source -- you should keep a lookout for any of the following warning signs:

  • Headaches
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Mood swings
  • Dehydration identifiable by dark yellow urine
  • Chills
  • Swollen lips
  • Skin redness

You and your co-workers may benefit from establishing a buddy system whereby you can keep an eye on each other, and if any of the above signs appear, the effected worker can go to a cool area, drink some water and get medical attention.

How can you prevent it?

Even though it is the responsibility of your employer to protect your health and safety, you may want to take the following preventative steps:

  • Clothing -- Wear light clothing, in both color and weight, and make sure it is loose fitting.
  • Personal protective gear -- Ask your employer to provide PPE such as cooling vests for maintaining a consistent body temperature.
  • Hydration -- Make sure you carry water with you and drink even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Breaks -- Take frequent breaks in air-conditioned or shaded areas to recover from heat exposure.

Be mindful of the dangers of heat exposure, even if your job is indoors. However, if you do suffer any heat-related illness this summer; be sure to get proper medical care. Remember that any expenses related to medical treatment and lost wages can be recovered by filing a benefits claim with the California workers' compensation program. An experienced workers' comp attorney can help you navigate the claims process and can help you fight against any wrongfully denied claims.

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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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