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Safety Tips for Working in the Heat

The Anastopoulo Law Firm

In the South, when the summer sun is high and the thermostat registers at 90-plus degrees, most of us would like nothing more than to be sitting somewhere in the shade, sipping a cold glass of sweet tea. While some folks are lucky enough to spend sweltering summer days in air-conditioned offices, others are forced to adapt to the heat in order to make a living. For these workers, summer can be brutal, bringing an increase of on-the-job illnesses and heat-related injuries. If you work in the heat, follow our safety tips to keep cool and safe while on the job.

Heat Exposure Dangers

It’s not only outdoor workers who suffer heat-related on the job illnesses and injuries; certain indoor workers suffer just as much from exposure to high temperatures. In addition to outdoor workers such as roofers, cement workers and road crews, indoor workers working in factories and manufacturing, service and hospitality industries, bakeries, laundry facilities and many more face the dangers associated with heat exposure. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), thousands of workers are threatened by occupational heat stress caused by exposure, sometimes resulting in death. Illnesses and injuries due to heat exposure include:

  • Heat exhaustion due to lack of water and salt due to heavy sweating. Signs include headaches, dizziness, and overall weakness;
  • Heat cramps, caused by dehydration and lack of salt from sweating. Heat cramps are generally located in the muscles being used the most, and can occur either during or after work is performed;
  • Heat rash, or prickly heat, a common problem caused by sweat that fails to evaporate from the skin; and
  • Heat stroke, which is the most serious side effect of working in the heat. Heat stroke is caused when the body becomes unable to regulate its core temperature or rid itself of excess heat. Heat stroke can result in loss of consciousness, and even death.

In addition to the above, high heat also means an increase in general accidents. Fogged up glasses and safety goggles make it difficult to see, dizziness and weakness can affect decision making and reaction times, and sweaty palms may make it difficult to grip and control machinery, tools, and equipment controls.

Safety Tips for Working in the Heat

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following ways to protect yourself from heat:

  • Acclimate yourself to the heat slowly. Don’t do too much, too soon
  • Set up a buddy system to keep an eye out for any signs of illness, such as dizziness or excessive seating
  • Schedule rest breaks. Rehydrate and sit in a cool environment
  • Wear light, loose fitting clothing

In addition to the above, drink plenty of water, and don’t wait until you get thirsty; drink at regular intervals. The CDC recommends workers in moderately high temperatures drink 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Insist that adequate water and cooling off breaks be provided; your life may depend on it.

Contact Our Experienced Worker’s Compensation Attorneys

If you’ve suffered an accident or illness due to heat stress, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm. Our experienced South Carolina worker’s compensation attorneys may be able to help you recover damages such as medical expenses and lost wages. With offices in Charleston and throughout South Carolina, we’ll fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call Akim Anastopoulo today for a free review of your case.

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