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Avoiding Heat-Related Injuries On the Job

Summer often ends up being one of the busiest times of the year for South Carolina workers, but high heat and humidity can make on-the-job accidents and injuries more likely to occur. While those who work outside often face increased risks, heat-related illnesses can occur in any occupation. The following outlines some of the ways that seasonal temperatures can impact your health as well as tips on what to do if you end up suffering an injury or illness.

Heat-Related Injuries and Illnesses

Heat-related illnesses are a serious concern for those in the agriculture, construction, and landscaping businesses, but they can also impact factory and office workers as well as those in the service industry. Aside from being uncomfortable, working in high temperatures can have an adverse effect on your health, leading to conditions that can end up being severe and in some cases, life threatening. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advises that the following are common heat-related conditions that all workers should be aware of:

  • Heat rash: These are clusters of comfortable red bumps that often appear on the neck, chest, or in folds of skin. When heat rash occurs, it is important to keep the area dry to avoid the risk of infection.

  • Heat cramps: These are painful muscle spasms that often occur in the abdomen, legs, and arms, and generally result from a lack of hydration. Workers should immediately rest and drink plenty of water, and should wait several areas before resuming any heavy labor.

  • Heat exhaustion: This often involves light headedness, fainting, nausea or vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and profuse sweating. It is a sign of serious dehydration and overexposure to heat, occurring when the body’s internal temperature rises to dangerous levels. Cold compresses should be used to cool the worker down, and they should not be permitted to return to the work site for the remainder of the door. If symptoms continue for longer than an hour, medical care should be sought.

  • Heat stroke: Signs of heat stroke include confusion, fainting, seizures, and very high body temperature. Heat stroke can be fatal, so you should notify 911 immediately if it is suspected, and provide the worker with water and cold compresses until help arrives.

In addition to the above illnesses, high temperatures can also make workplace accidents more likely to occur. High heats may make workers more prone to slipping up. Other examples include condensation from air conditioning may pool on floors making slips and falls more likely, and sweaty hands making gripping tools and machinery more difficult.

Sick or Injured On The Job?

If you suffer a heat-related illness or injury while on the job, you may be entitled to benefits through the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, including medical expenses and reimbursement for lost wages.

In order to be eligible for these benefits, it is important to notify your employer or supervisor immediately when an illness or injury occurs and to get medical care as soon as possible. Heat related conditions can have a severe impact on your health and can make it impossible to perform certain tasks that are a part of your job.

Contact the Surasky Law Firm, LLC today for legal advice and assistance.

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