As summer arrives, so comes excessive heat waves and extreme humidity. With temperatures and the humidity levels rising, the risk of a heat-related work injury for outdoor workers increases greatly. Contrary to popular belief, employees who work outside are not the only type of workers who are susceptible to heat induced work injuries. There are a number of careers that involve exposure to extreme heat such as firefighters, bakery workers, mill workers, boiler room workers and factory workers. Injuries on the job site can be caused by common heat illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
According to the General Duty Clause Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970, employers are required by law to provide a workspace that “is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.” This clause is interpreted by courts that employers must provide a work environment that is free from hazardous conditions and activities that could potentially lead to injury and death. This includes heat-related dangers.
The best way to avoid a heat induced injury is to be properly prepared and informed during hot weather. Though each work environment differs, wearing lightweight clothing, drinking plenty of water, working at a moderate pace and using a buddy system are a few preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of injury. Unfortunately, like every other workplace injury, heat-related injuries are sometimes unavoidable and in most case, require medical attention. Should someone acquire a heat induced injury, one should use the same protocol for any other workplace injury- seek medical attention and report the incident to the employer.
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