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Hazards to working in the summer heat

We are now entering the steamy summer months. While many workers are fortunate to work in controlled or comfortable work environments, this is not an option for everyone. According to OSHA, it is dangerous for workers to be exposed to a heat index above 90 degrees and reaches critical levels at 104 degrees. These can be jobs with radiant heat sources like a restaurant kitchen, boiler rooms or laundries or working in the hot sun as a construction worker, landscaper, farm hand or oil and gas worker.

It starts with prevention

Those working outside need to be aware of the dangers of summer work and plan accordingly. Outdoor workers can strive to avoid heatstroke by:

  • Apply and reapply sunscreen
  • Wear light and loose-fitting clothing that pulls sweat off a worker’s skin as well as covers it
  • Take regular breaks to rehydrate and get out of direct sunlight
  • Wear bug repellant to avoid exposure to insect-borne illnesses like Lyme Disease or West Nile Virus
  • Be mindful of dangerous strains of vegetation that can cause skin irritation

Indoor workers also face dangers

Indoor environments are more controlled, which means employers can utilize various training and standards to ensure a safe work environment for workers. Strategies for reducing the chances of heat exhaustion include:

  • Proper ventilation or appropriate air conditioning
  • Heat shields around equipment that exude radiant heat
  • Suits or clothing designed to moderate body temperatures

Potential injuries from heat

Heat stroke is a very real concern, but the heat can also lead such symptoms as unclear thinking and result in injuries. Workers should seek help if any of the following injuries occur:

  • High body temperature
  • Uncontrollable sweating
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Heat Rashes
  • Heat cramps

These conditions are dangerous

Workers suffering from heat-related injury or illness need to address it immediately to reduce or eliminate long term damage to the body. Seek medical assistance when it is clear that any of the above symptoms persist. Depending on the circumstances involved, it may also be necessary for the injured or their family to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney.

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