As we draw nearer to warm weather, it is important to draw attention to the health risks inherent in working under extreme heat conditions. Those who perform physical labor outdoors, such as road workers, roofers, landscapers and postal delivery workers, are at risk for heat-related illness if certain precautions are not taken.
Heat illness can be problematic, especially because we often donʻt realize we are overheated until symptoms begin to set in. Symptoms might include dizziness, irritability, heat rash, headache, muscle cramps, exhaustion and even heat stroke. While our bodies have natural defensive responses such as sweating and moving blood to the surface of the skin, employers also play a role in maintaining a safe working environment for their employees.
Employers have a responsibility to mitigate risks of heat illness
Business owners and employers have a responsibility to provide the safest working conditions possible for their staff members. For those who work in extreme heat environments, these risk-mitigating steps may include:
- Providing adequate hydration for staff to replace fluids lost through sweating
- Reducing shift lengths or providing extra breaks to allow employees to rest and cool off
- Monitoring staff members and taking serious any visible symptoms of heat illness
No matter the time of year, certain occupations pose an increased risk of heat illness to their employees. Firefighters, manufacturing warehouse workers, cooks, bakers and other indoor heat-exposed employees share similar health risks as those who work outdoors in the hot summer sun. If you sustain illness or injury due to work-related heat over-exposure, you may have grounds for a workersʻ compensation claim.