Protecting Employees from Extreme Summer Heat July 6, 2015
As the summer temperatures start to rise, employees that work outside are at risk for a number of heat-related illnesses. From relatively harmless conditions like heat rash and heat cramps; to heat stroke, a potentially deadly condition; it is crucial for employers to educate their employees about the warning signs and precautions that can be taken when working in conditions of extreme heat.
A combination of high temperatures, high humidity, direct sun exposure, and inadequate intake of water can lead to heat illnesses, including the following conditions:
- Heat rash is a common problem caused by heat-induced sweating. Small blisters or pimples appear on the neck, chest, and groin; under the breasts and in elbow creases. Treat a heat rash by moving the worker to a cooler, drier environment. Avoid creams or ointments.
- Heat cramps are muscle pains brought on by dehydration. Treat heat cramps by drinking plenty of water or electrolyte replacement fluids like Gatorade every 15 to 20 minutes.
- Heat exhaustion is also brought on by dehydration and excessive sweating. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, nausea, slightly elevated body temperature, and fast, shallow breathing. A worker suffering from heat exhaustion should be taken to a cool spot, given plenty of water, and taken to a cool shower or bath.
- Heat stroke is a very serious, potentially deadly, heat-related issue. It occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. When this happens the body’s temperature can rise to dangerous levels, which can be fatal if a temperature greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit is reached. It is important to get medical help immediately if a worker is suffering from heat stroke. Cool the person off by getting them to a shady area, remove as much clothing as possible, and place cold wet cloths all over the worker’s body to try to regulate their body temperature until medical helps arrives.
It is the responsibility of the employer to make sure that their workers are protected from heat stress. If at all possible, employers should avoid scheduling outdoor jobs during peak heat hours. Water should be provided so that workers are staying well-hydrated in the heat. Allow for rest periods so workers can get relief from the extreme heat and closely monitor any employee who appears to be at risk for heat stress. Having a plan in place for heat-induced illnesses can save an employee’s life. Have emergency contact information readily available and make sure workers and supervisors have quick, easy access to this information.
Employees should also be proactive about taking steps to avoid heat-related conditions. Light-colored, loose-fitting clothing is recommended for outdoor work. Always be aware of your fluid intake and be sure to avoid becoming dehydrated. Do not ignore any warning signs that you might be experiencing, especially if you think it could be heat stroke.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger Defend Victims of Heat-Related Work Injuries
If you have been injured on the job due to a heat-related incident, Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger will work hard to protect your rights and ensure that you receive the financial compensation you deserve. Call us at 1-800-222-8792 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including in Allentown and Harrisburg.