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Workers’ compensation: The dangers of working under the burning sun

Erwin, McCane & Daly | Saturday, July 05, 2014

Temperatures are climbing. We may have had a later start to spring and summer this year, but this will not preclude New York from hot temperatures.

Many employees labor in extreme conditions. Heat can be one of the worst working environments. For example, those who work in landscaping, construction, agriculture and other similar industries are often sweltering in their efforts during the summer season. However, in some situations, laboring under the heat can create serious health consequences.

For example, heat exposure can create rashes and cramps. Moreover, beating rays can cause skin cancer. Very serious heat-related consequences involve heat stroke and exhaustion. The symptoms of such issues include irrational behavior, confusion, dry skin, loss of consciousness and an excessively high temperature.

Employers are required to create a safe working atmosphere for employees. Of course, this is more difficult when the weather cannot be controlled. Nevertheless, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration has recently created heat illness educational materials in various languages to help employers and employees with this issue. The agency also created a curriculum, which can be used for workplace training.

Moreover, OSHA has also created a free application, which can be used on mobile devices. The app permits workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index during the day. The technology even displays work risk levels for employees. Estimates are based on a heat index, and they provide regular warnings about protective measures that are helpful at each risk level.

To help reduce the chances of heat-related injuries, employers should ensure that the following tips are followed on a hot worksite:

  • Workers should stay hydrated. It is important to take periodic water breaks throughout the working day.
  • Employers should limit extreme physical demands, including climbing, lifting, digging and other activities. Specifically, employers should attempt to utilize mechanical devices to accomplish this type of work.
  • Employers should schedule frequent periods of rest in shaded or air-conditioned areas.
  • Employees should wear sunscreen with high levels of UV protection to help limit damaging sun exposure to the skin.
  • Employees should wear light, airy clothing, which will help protect arms and legs from rays.
  • These are just a few tips, which can help prevent some of the life-threatening issues that can develop on a hot worksite. Responsible employers can enforce these tips.

If you have experienced a work-related injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Despite efforts of prevention, sometimes accidents happen. However, you may be entitled to recovery if you have been injured on the job. To learn more about your recovery options and available benefits, contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney in your area.