Excessive exposure to heat has caused more than 110 workers in the U.S. to require emergency medical treatment and hospitalization so far this summer, officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have reported.
Heat illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, reportedly harm thousands of American workers each year, even causing fatal injuries for some. While working outdoors in the heat of summer can significantly increase workers’ risk of developing a heat illness, such heat-related health complications are entirely preventable.
That’s why OSHA is focused on educating workers about what they can do to stay safe when working in the heat – and what they should do if they start to develop the signs of heat illness.
Why Working in the Heat Is So Dangerous
Although the body has natural ways of cooling itself down – such as by sweating, the body’s temperature can rise rapidly when people are physically exerting themselves in high-temperature environments. In such cases, sweating won’t be sufficient to cool people down.
In fact, if these people do not take a break, drink some water and do what they can to cool off, they can start to develop heat rash and heat cramps, which could snowball into far more serious conditions like heat exhaustion and heat stroke without intervention.
OSHA’s Guidance on Preventing Heat Illnesses: What Workers Need to Know
The best ways for workers to protect themselves and minimize their risk of developing a serious heat illness, according to OSHA, are to:
- Know the symptoms of heat illnesses – Some of these symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, confusion, fainting and rapid heartbeat. Understanding the symptoms of heat illnesses can help workers know when to take immediate action to prevent their symptoms and condition from progressing.
- Take the proper precautions – Namely, OSHA says to drink water frequently and take regular breaks (indoors if possible or at least in the shade if not possible) to keep body temperatures down and reduce the risk of developing a heat illness. Additionally, for those who work outdoors, OSHA recommends wearing light colored, breathable clothing, along with hats.
- Know what to do in the event of an emergency – When workers start to develop the signs of heat illnesses – or when they notice their coworkers displaying these symptoms, it’s crucial they know what to do.
While trying to cool down those suffering from heat illnesses is important, so too is calling emergency responders if the symptoms are significantly severe. OSHA has also noted that people should be especially attentive to workers who are new to working outdoors/in the heat, as these people will not be acclimated to this type of work and, consequently, will have a greater risk of developing these types of illnesses.
Contact a Portland Workers Compensation Lawyer at the Savage Law Firm
If you have suffered a workplace injury or have been diagnosed with an occupational illness, you can rely on a Portland workers compensation lawyer at the Savage Law Firm for experienced help getting the benefits you may deserve.
To learn more about our legal services and what we can do for you, call us at 503-222-0200 (in Portland) or at 206-957-7272 (in Seattle). You can also email us using the form on this page. We represent clients in communities in both Oregon and Washington from our offices in Portland and Seattle.