Weather temperatures heat up quickly in South Carolina. By early May, workers are exposed to hot sun and high humidity. Whether you work outside or indoors without air conditioning, the odds of on-the-job accidents and heat related illnesses increase during the summer months. As the injuries you suffer can be severe and even life threatening, it is important to be aware of the risks and how you can protect yourself.
Heat Related Accidents and Illnesses
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warns that heat related accidents and illnesses can affect outdoor workers, such as road construction crews, home builders and painters, landscapers, and concession stand workers, as well as those who work indoors in hot environments. Manufacturing, assembly and restaurant or bakery workers can all be affected, and there are numerous ways that heat stress can jeopardize a worker’s health and safety:
- High temperatures can fog up windows and safety goggles, making it hard to see
- Sweating can make it difficult to grasp handrails or objects, such as heavy tools, dangerous equipment or sharp objects
- Heat stress can lead to severe dehydration and illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke
OSHA reports that heat related illness occurs in hot temperatures and when the air is too humid to allow for evaporation of sweat. The body’s core temperature steadily increases, and may result in rapid heart rate, increased irritability and confusion, and fainting. Heat rashes and cramps may develop, and if the person is not cooled down, potentially deadly heat stroke can result. Those most at risk include older or overweight workers, and those with a history of heart disease or diabetes.
Tips To Protect Yourself On The Job
To protect workers in warm weather and in hot environments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises employers to train supervisors about the signs of heat related illness and to take the steps needed to limit exposure and strain.
This may involve using high powered fans to increase air velocity as well as adding more workers to allow for more frequent breaks. Special tools and equipment used to minimize manual tasks, such as having to bend, lift, and stretch, are helpful, as is using heat acclimation programs to gradually build up a worker’s endurance. Steps workers can take to protect themselves include:
- Drinking plenty of water and using sports drinks to replace electrolytes
- Taking breaks in cool locations
- Using a buddy system, to alert one another for danger signs
Have You Been Injured On The Job? Contact Us Today
Heat related illnesses and accidents can leave you unable to work while requiring extensive medical care and treatment. If you suffer this type of injury on the job, contact the Anastopoulo Law Firm for help in obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. We would be happy to schedule an appointment for you, either in our Charleston office or at one of our other locations through the state, to discuss the types of benefits you may be entitled to. Call or contact our workers’ compensation attorneys today.