Heat-Related Work InjuriesJune 21, 2019
Heat-related injuries and illnesses, such as sunburn, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, cramps, and rashes can occur in many types of work environments, and can be immediate or build up over time. As temperatures heat up this summer, now is the time to learn the signs and symptoms and to become familiar with preventative measures.
Heat stroke is the most serious of these illnesses, and the symptoms may not be apparent at first. Those affected may have seizures, experience dizziness, or become nauseous or confused. Other signs to look for include a high body temperature, hot, dry, or red skin, and heavy sweating. In the situations, it is imperative to call 911 immediately. It can be helpful to move the person to a cool place and use cool water and compresses to help. People suffering from heat stroke should not be given anything to drink.
Heat exhaustion has similar symptoms to heat stroke, but victims may also have headaches, thirst, a fast heartbeat, cool and clammy skin, and irritability. They should also be taken to a cool area, given cool compresses, and water. They should not go back to work that day and if things do not improve in an hour, they should be taken to a medical facility.
Rash, Sunburn, and Cramps
These conditions should all be addressed immediately, even if they are not life-threatening. They can all be painful, and the first step is to get out of the sun and into a cooler place. Heat rash looks different than sunburn and presents bumps on a person’s elbows, chest, groin, or neck. Serious cases may require a doctor visit. Heat cramps can be treated by drinking liquids and resting; if they do not subside or if there are risk factors, a doctor visit is also warranted.
Employees and their workers share responsibility for heat-related illness prevention. Workers and supervisors must understand the risks and implement safety protocols. There should be time limits for working in the heat, along with rest breaks in cooler areas. Employees will also benefit from having the proper tools, heat-protective clothing, and plenty of water on hand.
Acclimatization is another method that protects workers from the heat by building up their tolerance over time. This is done through gradually increased exposure completed over a period of one to two weeks. In general, it can start out with 20 percent or less of worktime spent in the heat on the first day, with subsequent increases of 20 percent each day after. This should be closely supervised, and can vary depending on the worker’s age, physical condition, and experience.
Additional measures include heat-absorbing or reflective barriers and shields, a communications protocol to keep everyone informed about weather conditions, staying alert to notice symptoms, and having a first-aid certified employee on the site.
Delaware County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello Represent Workers With Heat-Related Illnesses
If you or someone you know suffered from a work injury, contact the Delaware County workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello. Call us at 610-892-4940 or complete an online form today for a free consultation. Located in Media, Pennsylvania, we represent clients throughout Delaware County, Media, and West Chester.