Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Warn About the Dangers of Heat IllnessJuly 21, 2015
Heat-related emergencies and illnesses can occur at any time of year in some occupations, but during the summer months, significantly more workers are at risk. Heat stress caused by extreme or prolonged exposure to heat can cause life-threatening illness if not recognized or treated early. As a precautionary measure, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued a reminder to employers in the greater Baltimore-area to protect workers from heat illness.
Risk Factors for Heat Stress
- Occupation – outdoor workers performing heavy physical labor and those who work in hot environments such as firefighters, kitchen workers, construction workers, miners, factory workers and others.
- Age and physical condition – workers over 65 years of age, or those who are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take certain medications may be at higher risk.
- Job site conditions – high temperatures, humidity, direct sun exposure, or a lack of breeze or wind.
- Clothing and equipment – waterproof clothing or heavy protective gear.
Illnesses caused by Heat-Related Stress
- Heat stroke – Heat stroke is a medical emergency that can result in death. Workers experiencing heat stroke can have a body temperature that rises above 106 degrees and may stop sweating. Other signs include confusion, chills, loss of consciousness and seizures.
- Heat exhaustion – Though not as serious as heat stroke, workers suffering from heat exhaustion should be taken to an emergency room or clinic for medical evaluation and treatment. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, thirst, heavy sweating and a high body temperature.
- Heat syncope – Prolonged standing in hot conditions can lead to fainting, light-headedness and dizziness, usually caused by dehydration or a lack of acclimatization. Workers exhibiting symptoms of heat syncope should be taken to a cool place to sit or lie down and drink cool, clear fluids until symptoms subside.
- Heat cramps – These muscle pains are caused by the loss of salt and fluid that can occur while sweating. Heat cramps can be prevented and treated by consuming water and/or electrolyte replacement drinks like sports drinks every 15 to 20 minutes.
Precautions to keep Workers Safe during Hot Summer Days
- Designate a person trained in identifying the hazards and physiological responses to heat stress to oversee workers’ safety during the summer months.
- Recognize the factors that contribute to heat illness and monitor the work site for high temperature, humidity, sun exposure, work demands, clothing and protective equipment.
- Encourage workers to hydrate frequently and ensure that cool drinking water is available and easily accessible.
- Ensure that workers have access to a shaded or air conditioned areas for resting and cooling down.
- Modify workers’ schedules to avoid prolonged exposure to heat and arrange for frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.
- Gradually increase workloads and allow for more frequent breaks for workers who are not yet acclimated to the heat.
- Reschedule non-essential activities for days or times when the heat index is lower.
- Routinely check on workers at increased risk due to protective clothing and high temperature.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Workers Harmed by Job-related Heat Stress
If you or a loved one has been injured or become ill due to prolonged or excessive heat exposure at work, help is available. Call the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation law firm of LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) to discuss your possible Workers’ Compensation claim with one of our experienced and highly skilled Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers or contact us online.