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Employers Must Be Aware of Danger Posed by Heat-Related Illnesses

Today's workers' compensation defense post will discuss an American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) report outlining the incredibly serious yet often inconspicuous danger posed to both employers and employees by heat exposure (i.e., heat exhaustion and heat stroke).

How does a person develop heat stroke or heat exhaustion?

An employee is at a serious risk of suffering heat exhaustion or a potentially deadly heat stroke when their body reaches the point where it cannot lower its core internal temperature by sweating.

Direct exposure to the sunlight, inadequate air circulation, excessive physical activity, extremely high temperatures/dew points and preexisting health conditions are just a few of the conditions that can contribute to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

• Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness/fainting, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, mood changes (frequently manifested by confusion or irritability) and headaches.

• Common symptoms of heat stroke include warm skin coupled with an inability to sweat, a loss of consciousness and seizures/convulsions.

According to Darryl C. Hill, president of the ASSE, "Heat and humidity can be a serious safety threat to all workers during the summer - from lifeguards to agriculture, construction, and roadway workers. People should think twice if they begin to feel these symptoms and act quickly."

Are there any steps that an employer or employees can take to prevent this serious work injury?

The ASSE recommends that employers take the following precautions when the temperature rises:

• Require employees to take additional breaks/rest periods
• Utilize both fans and/or air conditioning (if possible)
• Observe employees for any of the above-mentioned symptoms
• Consider adopting measures to block direct exposure to sunlight

The ASSE also recommends that employees take the following precautions when the temperature rises:

• Drink at least one cup of water every 15 minutes
• Avoid eating large meals and consuming excessive caffeine
• Wear sunscreen/sunblock and sunglasses
• Dress in loose, light-reflective clothes

The following post was for informational purposes only and not to be construed as legal or medical advice. Speak with a professional to learn more.

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

Related Resources:
• ASSE Offers Heat-Illness Tips (Occupational Health and Safety)

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