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CDC report discusses worker deaths caused by heat-related hazards

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report related to 20 heat-related enforcement actions reviewed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration between 2012 and 2013. The report indicates that lack of heat acclimatization programs is the single greatest risk factor workers face when potential for heat-related fatalities exists.

When a loved one dies on the job, his or her family may be eligible to receive death benefits. These benefits are valuable and therefore family members should not hesitate to speak with an experienced attorney about obtaining them in the event that tragedy strikes. However, death benefits are a very small consolation for grieving families who would almost certainly rather have their loved one back in their lives. This simple reality illustrates why prevention of heat-related fatalities is so deeply important.

When workers are exposed to heat that they are not used to, they must be properly trained in heat-related safety and adequately acclimatized. According to the new CDC report, of the 13 heat-related fatality cases reviewed by OSHA, nine deaths occurred within the first three days that workers reported to their respective jobs. In each of these cases, as well as the additional seven enforcement actions that involved worker injury but not death, workers were not granted access to adequate heat acclimatization programming.

The new CDC report should serve as an urgent warning to employers whose workers toil in the heat. It is vitally important that you institute adequate and proper acclimatization programming in order to prevent heat-related worker illnesses and death.

Source: United States Department of Labor, “CDC report on OSHA's review of heat-related enforcement cases highlights need for acclimatization to prevent worker deaths,” Aug. 7, 2014

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