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Heat-related illnesses are preventable

Summer brings an entirely new set of safety concerns for Pennsylvanians whose jobs involve working outdoors and/or doing physical labor. The sweltering sun and heat can be deadly if proper precautions aren’t taken. Employers play a crucial role in ensuring that their workers don’t suffer heat-related illnesses and injuries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to protect workers from the dangers of extreme heat. This includes proper training and planning to prevent heat exposure as well as the proper response when a worker suffers from this exposure.

Of course, people who work in agriculture and construction jobs that require hours in the sun are at risk. However, so are those whose jobs involve wearing protective clothing and/or carrying heavy equipment, such as emergency responders. Workers who are new to a job or have returned to work after an absence are particularly vulnerable.

Nearly all heat-related illnesses and fatalities are preventable. Employers need to first make sure that workers know how to recognize heat-related symptoms and encourage them not to be afraid to stop working and seek help when they experience these symptoms or see others experiencing them.

Employers need to be cognizant of all of the factors that can lead to heat-related medical conditions. Those in charge of a job site should know what the heat index is there. According to the National Weather Service, the heat index measures “how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature.”

Employers can protect their workers’ safety by implementing practices like ensuring that they’re staying hydrated. They should also have scheduled rest breaks outside of the sun.

It’s also essential to have emergency procedures in place to treat a worker who shows signs of a heat-related condition. There should be people on any job site who know how to administer basic first aid until a worker can be taken to the hospital or other medical facility for proper treatment.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a heat-related illness that was caused by unsafe working conditions or could have been prevented if proper precautions and procedures had been in place, you may want to determine what your legal options are for holding individuals and entities accountable. This accountability can help protect other workers and also help you get the compensation you and your family need.

Source: Phoenix Business Journal, “Arm your workers with life-saving tips to battle summer’s sweltering heat,” May 24, 2018

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