Every summer, workers nationwide, including some in Illinois, suffer heat-related illnesses. Heat stroke can be a life-threatening condition, and the resulting medical expenses and lost wages can adversely impact a victim’s financial stability. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have developed a tool that might keep workers safe who are exposed to summer heat.
The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool is an app that workers can access on their mobile phones. It is not only available in English but also in Spanish, and it can be used for heat index calculation. Those who work in full sunlight might experience a 15-degree Fahrenheit increase in the heat index, and precautions are essential to protect workers. By using the Heat Safety Tool, the level of risk for exposed workers will be displayed, based on the heat index.
Furthermore, the tool can provide safety reminders for appropriate precautions based on the risk level. This could include reminders to drink adequate amounts of fresh water and schedule frequent breaks in shaded areas. It also provides information about steps to take in the event of an emergency, along with a guide to help new workers acclimatize to the hot conditions. The tool explains the telltale signs of heat illness for which workers should look out as they monitor each other on the work sites.
While the Heat Safety Tool can guide workers and supervisors to manage working in heat better, those who are not monitored might become ill. Heat illness can be severe if it is not promptly treated, and affected workers’ lives may be at stake. Fortunately, the Illinois workers’ compensation insurance program will cover the related medical expenses and lost wages. Resources are available to assist with the legal and administrative steps of the benefits claims process.