When temperatures rise, Pennsylvania employees who work outside or in workplaces that do not have temperature-controlled environments, they may be at risk for heat stroke. In some cases, heat stroke can be fatal, especially when the temperatures soar into the high 80s and 90s. However, fatal heat stroke can still occur even when the Heat Index is below 91 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Heat Index is a calculation based on heat and humidity that gauges how the combination feels to individuals who may be spending time outside. However, the Heat Index calculation assumes that the person is in the shade and is wearing light clothing. This means that the actual temperature in the sun may be much higher if the employee is working in direct sunlight. Further, the employee may be wearing heavy, non-breathable protective clothing.
The combination of the temperature, the humidity, working in direct sunlight and the heavy clothing can make fatal heat stroke a real risk for employees. As such, employers should do everything that they can to reduce the risk. This may mean training supervisors to be able to identify the signs of heat stroke. Further, frequent breaks in the shade or in air-conditioned shelters should be scheduled so that workers have a chance to cool down and drink some water.
Employers in Pennsylvania are responsible for providing a safe workplace for their workers. While they may not have control over temperatures and the Heat Index, they can still mitigate risks of heat stroke by paying attention to their worker's needs and providing them with water and breaks. If a worker does suffer heat stroke and requires medical attention, the worker may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits to cover medical costs. An attorney may help the worker file the initial claim or file an appeal if the claim is denied.