Prevent workplace illness from heat exposure

Summers in California and in many other states across the country can be quite warm when heat waves occur. Some employees may be required to work in extreme heat if they work outside or in certain indoor conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues guidelines for ways employees can avoid a heat-related workplace illness.

OSHA reports that thousands of employees experience heat exposure on the job each year. While some of these workers require hospitalization, there are also reported deaths from heat exposure. Employers are encouraged to take the necessary steps to avoid illness or death. A safety campaign involving blogs, Twitter posts and instruction videos is available for use by companies whose workers are potentially affected by heat.

Officials also stress the importance of acclimating employees to the heat level in outdoor jobs and certain inside jobs such as baking or firefighting. Often, injuries occur when someone is new to a job or has been away from work for a while. Also, heat stress can be more problematic for those workers who are on certain medications, have high blood pressure or heart disease, are overweight or are over age 65.

One suggestion to avoid heat-related deaths or illnesses include wearing hats and light-colored clothing. It is also critical to drink water frequently, whether or not someone feels thirsty. OSHA documents say to cool down by resting in the shade and to monitor fellow employees. Employees should be able to recognize the symptoms of heat exposure and know what to do if they or a co-worker experiences them.

California employees have the right to a safe working environment. While some jobs do require employees to work in extreme conditions, employers should have procedures in place to prevent workplace illness or accidents. When employees have become ill or have been injured on the job, they may choose to contact a workers' compensation attorney for assistance. A knowledgeable lawyer can work with clients to ensure that they receive the benefits and compensation to which they are entitled.

Source:, "Protect workers from heat illness", June 17, 2017

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