With forecasters expecting above-average temperatures throughout the country for the next couple of months, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is warning outdoor workers and their employers of the dangers of prolonged exposure to extreme heat.
OSHA Rules Regarding Outdoor Work in Extreme Heat
OSHA requires that employers provide safe environments for workers, which includes protecting employees from high heat exposure. Employers should offer workers suitable break periods and hydration so they may cool down properly.
The agency also recommends all employers create heat illness prevention programs. Such programs include making water and shade available, allowing rest periods and adjusting schedules if needed, training workers on heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them, as well as monitoring employees for symptoms of heat-related sicknesses. While such a program is strongly recommended by OSHA, it is not a requirement.
Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses
OSHA recommends outdoor workers drink water at 15-minute intervals to prevent dehydration. Workers should also take breaks in shaded areas to reduce core body temperature.
If it is a worker’s first time in the heat, or if they have been absent for a period of time, OSHA recommends these workers increase their outdoor workloads gradually so their bodies can become accustomed to working in extreme heat.
Symptoms of Heat Illnesses
Heat exhaustion is one form of heat-related illness that can occur on an outdoor jobsite. Symptoms include weakness, headaches and dizzy spells. When untreated, a worker may develop muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, and rapid heart rate.
Heat stroke may also occur on outdoor worksites. The worker will have hot, red and dry skin; confusion; and fever. The worker may faint or convulse if not treated in time.
If a worker appears to be suffering heat-related illness, a supervisor should be contacted. If a supervisor is not available, coworkers should call 911 and stay with the injured worker.
If you have suffered a heat related injury at work because your employer failed to provide the appropriate accommodations, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your medical bills and lost wages. Let the workers’ compensation attorneys of Gordon & Doner pursue your claim and recover the benefits you deserve.