Heat Related Injury at Work: Don't Let It Ruin Your Summer
Summer in South Carolina means plenty of sun, high humidity, and temperatures that frequently reach 90 degrees and higher. While this may be the perfect weather for swimming and laying at the beach, it is less than ideal for those whose jobs require them to work in the heat. Not only is working in soaring temperatures uncomfortable, but it can also mean an increase in on-the-job injuries that have the potential to be serious and even life-threatening. Whether you work outdoors or inside in a facility with a lack of air conditioning or poor air circulation, the following is information you need to be aware of regarding potential heat-related injuries, as well as steps you can take to protect your summer safety on the job.
Heat-Related On-The-Job Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), extreme temperatures and summer heat can expose workers in a variety of occupations to heat stress, a common cause of occupational injuries and illness. In addition to construction workers and road crews, people at risk for heat stress include landscapers, concession stand workers, lifeguards, dock workers, food service workers, and factory workers. The CDC states that sweaty palms, fogged glasses and goggles, and surface condensation can all result in an increase in accidental injuries on the job, while common and potentially severe heat-related illnesses include the following:
- Heat rashes: Caused by excessive sweating, heat rash is an irritating skin condition resulting in red pimples and blisters that occur in body creases, such as on the neck, abdomen, groin, and in elbows. These can become infected if not cared for.
- Heat cramps: An early symptom of heat exhaustion, these painful cramps are common in the abdomen, arms, and legs caused by depletion of body salt due to sweating.
- Heat syncope: Resulting from dehydration and lack of acclimation to outdoor temperature, this can result in dizziness and fainting, and can be a serious cause of injuries for those who work on ladders and tall surfaces.
- Rhabdomyolysis: A serious medical condition associated with heat stress and prolonged exertion, this can result in irregular heartbeat, breakdown of muscle, and damage to kidneys and internal organs.
- Heat stroke: This occurs when the body becomes unable to regulate its own temperature due to heat exhaustion and exposure. A severe condition that requires immediate medical attention, it can result in permanent disabilities and even death.
Preventing Heat-Related Work Injuries
Follow these tips from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to prevent heat-related injuries in yourself and your coworkers:
- Increase ventilation and use cooling fans to circulate air.
- Make sure workers are given time to slowly acclimate to the heat.
- Use engineering controls, such as lifts and conveyor belts, to avoid overexertion.
- Provide plenty of water, and make sure workers take frequent breaks from the heat.
- Use a buddy system for employees to remind one another to take their breaks, and to monitor each other for signs of heat stress.
Contact Us for Professional Assistance
If you or someone you care about suffers an on-the-job injury or illness, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm immediately. Our experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys can assist you in getting the benefits you need while you recover.