The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced the start of their yearly campaign to prevent heat sickness in outdoor workers. Throughout the summer months, OSHA plans to educate workers and employers alike about the dangers of not making allowances for the summer heat.
Every year thousands of workers become sick, and a number of them die from working in the heat. Physical labor can make the body hotter than usual, and sweating alone is not enough to cool you down.
"Employers can take a few easy steps to save lives, including scheduling frequent water breaks, providing shade and allowing ample time to rest," says an OSHA spokesperson. “Employers are responsible for keeping workers safe.”
What is Heat Sickness?
Heat sickness can show up as a rash or as a form of heat cramps. Without proper care it can escalate to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal.
Researchers caution that new and temporary workers are especially susceptible to heat sickness because their bodies have not acclimated to the heat.
According to Dr. David Michaels, "[a]cclimatization is a physical change that the body undergoes to build tolerance to heat, and it is a critical part of preventing heat illnesses and fatalities."
Michaels goes on to say that lack of acclimatization was the reason behind 74 percent of heat-related citations issued by OSHA.
To help workers prepare for the heat, OSHA is offering educational materials for heat sickness online in both English and Spanish. There is also a mobile app that lets workers and employers keep track of heat-related conditions.
In 2012, there were over 4,000 cases of heat-related worker illness nationwide. If anyone you know is being overworked in intense heat conditions, encourage them to call Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC. While at work, your employer is responsible for your health. Make sure they are abiding by the law.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC
—Columbus Workers Comp Attorneys