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OSHA releases hot weather reminder for employers

Pennsylvania companies have a legal obligation to provide employees with a safe place to work. That means heeding regulations published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, among other requirements. OSHA has issued reminders for companies that have employees working in hot conditions to prevent heat illness. Employers are required by OSHA standards to establish heat illness prevention programs. The key elements of such programs are rest, water, and shade.

According to an assistant director with an OSHA training institute, more than 40% of worker deaths that are heat-related happen on construction sites, and most heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable. If workers are not drinking enough water or getting enough rest in shaded areas, their body temperature can rise to dangerously high levels, leading in some cases to heat stroke or heat exhaustion. This is especially true on work sites where hot weather is combined with high humidity levels.

New workers as well as temporary workers might be at increased risk for heat-related complications because they have not developed a tolerance to hot working conditions. Workers who are returning to their jobs after more than a week away may also be at increased risk. The most important elements of a heat illness prevention program are making sure workers have sufficient rest, water and shade, training workers, planning for emergencies, monitoring workers, and allowing new workers a period during which to acclimatize.

The state's workers' compensation system is designed to provide relief to injured employees without requiring a demonstration of negligence or other wrongdoing by employers. An attorney with experience handling workers' compensation cases might be able to help injured parties by examining the facts of the case and putting together claims on the client's behalf.

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