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Summer brings heat-related workers' compensation claims

When summer rolls around, many workers in California expect the air conditioning will kick on and the office will stay cool. They may even complain that it is too chilly. Workers whose jobs require them to be outside or otherwise exposed to high temperatures may not be so lucky. Some may become so ill from the heat that they may need to claim workers' compensation. In 2014, over 2,600 workers became ill from heat exposure, and 18 of those workers died.

Employees are especially vulnerable if they work when the humidity is high or if their jobs include strenuous physical labor. Those required to wear heavy protective clothing or gear may also be more susceptible to heat stroke or heat exhaustion. New or seasonal workers may be more likely to fall ill. New workers who are given more frequent rest periods are able to acclimate to the working conditions and possibly reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses.

Employers who follow OSHA requirements may greatly reduce the likelihood of heat-related deaths or illnesses among their workers. The three keys for protecting workers from extreme heat are water, rest and shade. OSHA urges employers to provide workers with frequent breaks out of the sun and plenty of water every 15 minutes. Additionally, when all workers are aware of the symptoms of heat stroke or exhaustion, they can be alert for co-workers who have had too much heat exposure.

According to OSHA, most illnesses and deaths from prolonged work in the heat are preventable by taking common sense precautions. Employees in California who work long hours in the sun or in overheated conditions should be able to depend on their bosses to provide the basics of water, rest and shade to keep them safe on the job. Workers who have fallen ill because those basics were denied may contact an attorney who will help them determine if they have the basis for a workers' compensation claim.

Source: benzinga.com, "Important Reminder on Heat Illness Prevention Issued by the OSHA Training Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District", June 27, 2016

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