With the record-breaking heat waves we’ve had in recent summers, those who work outdoors are more likely to suffer from heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Construction workers, who do highly physical labor under the hot sun, are in particular danger.
Employers need to take proper precautions to protect their workers. For example, Pennsylvania’s Department of Health recommends that outdoor workers drink two to four cups of water per hour while they’re on the job and wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothes and head coverings.
It’s also imperative that workers learn how to spot the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion in themselves and others so they can get first aid before it’s too late.
Lack of regulations for employers
While a few states have laws and regulations regarding hazardous heat standards for employers in certain industries to help protect workers who spend long hours working in high temperatures, Pennsylvania isn’t one of them.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is working on establishing a federal standard for heat stress – both for outdoor and indoor workers. Some 80% of heat-related deaths involve outdoor work.
Workers with pre-existing medical conditions including kidney and heart disease and asthma need to be particularly careful about taking precautions while working in excessive heat. So do older workers. However, that shouldn’t stop anyone from seeking workers’ compensation if they have to seek medical treatment and/or take time away from work after suffering a heat-related illness as a result of their work.
If you’re having trouble getting the workers’ comp benefits you need and deserve, it may be necessary to seek legal guidance. This can help you protect your rights and care for yourself and your family.