Heat-Related Work Injuries Increase During the Dog Days of Summer
Every year there a thousand of workers tasked with carrying out their basic duties in extreme heat who suffer from heat-related injuries.
It has been a scorcher this week in North Carolina. Temperatures were edging on triple digits and the humidity made it feel even higher. For most who have the luxury of working in-doors the heat has more than likely just been a nuisance to avoid. But for those working outdoors, the skyrocketing temperatures are dangerous and can even be life-threatening.
The high temperatures can make work dangerous in more ways than you would expect. For instance, the heat can cause work goggles to fog up interfering with an employee’s ability to see appropriately while handling dangerous machinery. The heat can cause a person to sweat more thereby causing items in the hand to slip out of a hand. The heat can cause dizziness which can cause a person to be unsteady on their feet. And of course, there is the very real risk of heatstroke caused by the body’s inability to keep cool. All of these can lead to significant work injuries.
Staying cool to avoid heat-related work injuries is something every employer should address for their employees. If you work outside it imperative that you take care to avoid heat-related injuries.
Here are some simple preventative steps you can take:
Stay Hydrated: Always be sure to have water readily available whether it is in an individual water bottle or water provided by your employer. Remember that drinking water should not just be during work hours. Keep ahead of the heat by ensuring that you show up to work fully hydrated.
Take Breaks When Needed: Working outside in the heat is grueling and the energy needed to keep your body cool can take a toll on your energy levels. A five-minute break in an air conditioned environment can assist in lowering your body temperature.
Dress for the Heat: If allowed wear moisture-wicking, quick-drying gear. These fabrics are thin, lightweight and don’t absorb sweat. If you are in an area of low humidity, wear loose, light-colored, long-sleeved clothing to shield your skin from the sun.
Protection from the Sun: If allowed wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Be sure to apply sunscreen generously, and reapply often.
Use a Hand Cloth: Keep some kind of absorbent cloth close by to dry your hands, glasses, and head to ensure any moisture from sweat or otherwise is dealt with to avoid accidents associated with excess sweat and moisture.
Any of these suggestions should be easy for your employer to accommodate and provide a safe working environment.
If you run into an employer that doesn’t understand the risk of heat-related work injuries to their employees when the heat index rises, you can direct your employer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for guidelines:
Ultimately we want all employees to be safe but sometimes accidents do happen. If you are involved in an accident at work and are injured, whether heat-related or not, Mullen Law, P.A. can help. Call us to schedule an appointment to see how we can help.
Have You Suffered from a Heat-Related Illness or Injury while Working in an Unsafe Environment?
Mullen Law, P.A. offers free, no-risk consultations to meet with you and review your case. We’ll advise you of the next steps to take in filing and processing your worker’s compensation claim. Our firm works on a contingency fee basis which means we don’t get paid unless you get paid.