Heat Induced Work Injury Claims
Heat Induced Work Injury Claims
The hot temperatures that are a hallmark of summer in Ohio are great for those who can head inside at the first signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Outdoor workers aren’t so lucky, and may suffer a heat related injury that requires medical attention. These workers need to stay hydrated, know the signs of impending heat stroke, and do whatever it takes to cool down. This is important, however fear of angering their employer, may put them at risk. All too often, employers push their workers to keep moving, despite searing temperatures and all of the risks that come with it.
Your occupational safety is very important and if you suffer a heat related illness on the job, you may be entitled to workers compensation benefits. If you’ve suffered a heat stroke, heat rash, or other heat related injuries, you need to give me a call! Your heat related injury likely resulted in expensive medical bills or lost wages! With a rising heat index, your employer should mandate personal protective equipment worn, rest breaks, and to drink water. If you have a workers compensation claim, I have more than 40 years of experience in Cleveland, Ohio working on heat related injury cases. If you have been injured from heat exposure, I’ll Make Them Pay!®
Outdoor Workers with Risk of Heat Related Illnesses
As Clevelanders, we know Ohio has hot and humid summers. This can lead to heat exhaustion for workers who are exposed to high temperatures and humidity for extended periods of time. Here are some jobs where workers may be at risk of heat exhaustion:
Construction workers: Workers on construction sites often work outdoors and endure oppressive heat when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. This may result in high body temperatures and dehydration. Environmental risk factors included.
Landscapers and groundskeepers: These workers often work outdoors in the heat, performing physically demanding tasks such as mowing lawns, edging planting beds and trimming hedges. This occupational heat exposure can lead to heat rash at the very minimum, and ultimately to heat stroke.
Agricultural workers: Farmers and agricultural workers who work outside during the summer months may be exposed to high temperatures and humidity. This can lead to heat related injuries or heat exhaustion.
Roofers: Roofing often requires workers to be exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time. This may lead to increased body temperatures and dehydration.
Manufacturing and factory workers: Workers in manufacturing plants may be exposed to extreme heat due to hot weather, poor ventilation and heat from equipment and machinery. Temperature can quickly rise dangerously high, resulting in heat exhaustion and sometimes death.
Heat Related Illness
The mildest form of heat illness, are heat cramps which consist of painful muscle cramps and spasms that occur during or after intense exercise and heat stress.
Painful muscle spasms
Moist, flushed skin
This is a more serious form of a heat induced illness. It can occur when a person is exposed to high air temperature and humidity for an extended period of time.
Cool, moist skin with goosebumps even when in the heat
Weak, rapid pulse
Low blood pressure upon standing
Nausea or vomiting
Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat related illness and can be life-threatening. It occurs when the body’s temperature regulation system breaks down and the body’s temperature rises to dangerous levels.
Treatment for Heat Illnesses
The best way to treat heat-related illnesses is to prevent them from happening in the first place. This can be achieved by staying hydrated, taking frequent breaks, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Also, wearing light and loose-fitting clothing, and staying in a cool environment when possible.
Rest and hydration
For a mild case of heat illness, rest and hydration are often enough to alleviate symptoms. This involves taking a break from the heat, moving to a cooler environment, and drinking water or other fluids to rehydrate the body.
In more severe cases, heat related injuries may require medical attention. This may involve treatment with intravenous fluids, electrolytes, and medications to regulate body temperature to alleviate symptoms. It’s important to seek medical attention immediately if symptoms of heat stroke, such as confusion, loss of consciousness, or seizures, are present. If you’ve suffered a heat related injury while performing your job, you may be able to file a workers compensation claim and receive benefits. It is extremely important to keep/document all of your medical records.
Heat Illness Prevention
To avoid workplace injury it is recommended to take steps to manage the heat load. When you are working in a high temperature you should monitor your body’s response to find which methods below work best so you can avoid serious injury.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, during your vigorous work day, particularly on hot days.
Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothes to help lessen your heat load.
Avoid staying outside during peak sun hours and seek shade as much as possible.
Avoid or reduce physical activities during extreme heat. If possible, schedule outdoor activities in the early morning or late evening when it’s cooler.
Take breaks in cool or air-conditioned places.
Use fans, air conditioning, cool showers or baths to quickly cool down.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can increase dehydration.
Take extra precautions if you are on certain medications or have medical conditions that increase your risk for heat-related illnesses.
Employer Measures to Prevent Heat Related Injury
Employers can take several steps to prevent heat-related illnesses for their employees. If your employer does not take measures to ensure your safety, you should document the issues for your workers compensation claim. Here are some on-the-job prevention measures that employers should provide for their workers:
Employers should provide cool water for workers to drink, since proper hydration is essential to prevent heat illness. For those working two hours or more, employers should also provide access to additional fluids that contain electrolytes. For short jobs, cool potable water is sufficient.
Employers should provide access to shaded or air-conditioned areas for workers to rest during breaks or during times when they feel overheated.
Employers should ensure that workers are acclimatized before they work in a hot environment. Gradually increasing workers’ time in hot conditions over 7 to 14 days can help acclimatize them. For new workers, the schedule should be no more than 20% of the usual duration of work in the heat on day 1 and no more than a 20% increase on each additional day.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Employers should provide workers with PPE that is appropriate for the job and the temperature. This may include lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, hats or caps, and sunscreen.
Employers should train workers how to control and recognize heat hazards, as well as how to administer first aid for a heat illness. The training should be conducted in a language that workers understand.
Health Issues that Increase Risk of Heat Illnesses
Obesity (body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2)
Obesity is a medical condition characterized by excessive accumulation of body fat, usually caused by consuming more calories than the body can use. It is defined by having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher and is associated with an increased risk of various health problems.
Diabetes is a chronic health condition characterized by high blood sugar levels due to the body’s inability to produce or effectively use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and allows the body to use glucose for energy.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition where the force of blood against the walls of arteries is consistently too high. This puts extra strain on the heart and blood vessels.
Heart disease is a general term used to describe a range of conditions that affect the heart. This includes coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, congenital heart defects, heart muscle disease, and irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias).
Lower level of physical fitness
Having a lower level of physical fitness means that an individual may have reduced stamina, endurance, and overall physical capabilities. This can make it more difficult to perform daily activities, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Workers Compensation for Heat Related Injury
Workers can take steps to reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses, including drinking water every 15-20 minutes. Taking periodic rest breaks, using heat-protective clothing, and wearing wide-brimmed hats to protect against sun exposure. In the event of a heat-related illness, workers’ compensation benefits may be available.
If your body overheats and you need medical care, you may have a case for workers compensation benefits. I have a long history of working with employees in Cleveland, Ohio and fighting to recoup their wages. I know, Cleveland can be hot with high humidity! Take steps to ensure your health and safety, but if you are injured at work and need workers compensation benefits, call me today!
If you’ve suffered a heat-based injury while on the job, contact me right now and I’ll Make Them Pay!®