Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers: Occupational Heat ExposureJune 27, 2016
When it comes to being exposed to heat on the job, there are some workers who are at a higher risk of heat-related injuries than others, including construction workers, landscapers, firefighters, factory workers, and emergency response operators. However, as the temperatures rises this summer, more workers are at an increased risk for things like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dizziness, dehydration, and other illnesses related to heat exposure. These conditions can be avoided if workers know the steps to take to prevent occupational heat exposure.
Why Heat Can be Hazardous to Workers
The body is a fine-tuned machine that knows how to regulate itself when the heat rises. To maintain a stable internal temperature, the body sweats in order to get rid of excess heat. However, when the body is unable to get rid of the excess heat due to a combination of high temperatures and high humidity, it will store it. This causes the body’s core temperature to rise and the heart rate to increase. This can become a dangerous combination if the worker becomes severely dehydrated and overheated. To protect workers from occupational heat exposure, keep the following tips in mind as temperatures rise this summer:
- Provide plenty of cool water throughout the day.
- Designate cool, shady areas for breaks.
- Workers should gradually acclimate themselves to the heat rather than immediately start doing strenuous work in extreme heat.
- Schedule strenuous work for early or later in the day to avoid peak temperatures.
- Encourage workers to take more frequent water breaks during hot weather.
- Workers should eat snacks or drinks that replenish electrolytes lost through sweat.
- Make sure that employers and employees know the signs of heat-related illnesses and when it is necessary to seek medical assistance.
Common Types of Heat-Related Illnesses
- Heat Stroke: This is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body can no longer control its core temperature. Symptoms include confusion, loss of consciousness, high body temperature, seizures, and hot, dry skin or extreme sweating.Call 911 and immediately try to cool the worker down by placing cold, wet cloths, or ice packs on the worker’s head, neck, armpits, and groin. Bring the worker to a shady area until help arrives.
- Heat Exhaustion: This occurs when the body starts to sweat excessively due to a loss of water and salt. Common symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, heavy sweating, thirst, and decreased urine output.Victims of heat exhaustion also require medical care, so call 911 and remain with the worker until help arrives. Help the worker cool down by giving cool compresses to wash his or her head, face and neck. Make sure the worker drinks plenty of cool water.
- Rhabdomyolysis: This is a medical condition that can result in the breakdown, rupture, and death of the muscle. Electrolytes can be released into the bloodstream, causing irregular heart rhythms, seizures, and kidney damage.Employees with this condition should stop working, hydrate with plenty of water, and get to a medical facility for a blood analysis to check for creatine kinase.
- Heat Cramps: When the body sweats excessively, it loses salt through sweat. Low salt levels can cause painful cramps in the abdomen, arms, and legs.Workers should drink water and have a snack or sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes in order to replenish electrolyte levels.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Workers Injured by Heat Exposure
If you or a loved one has been injured or become ill as a result of occupational heat exposure, you are urged to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our dedicated team will guide you through the claims process, while pursuing the maximum financial compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.