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Workers' compensation: Heat hazards early this summer

Summer has barely started, and California has already been hit by a heat wave. Every year, the consequences of excessive heat exposure see many employees having to file workers' compensation claims for medical expenses and lost wages due to heat illness. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health already urged employers to be prepared after temperatures in some areas soared to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the second week of May.

Safety regulations require employers to have written plans in place to prevent heat illness, including procedures for emergency response, and supervisors and employees must receive the necessary training for implementation of the program. It is essential to provide each worker with at least one quart of cool, fresh and pure water per hour -- free of charge. When temperatures rise above 80 degrees, there must be shaded areas available where workers can take frequent five-minute breaks to cool down. This must be done in prevention and not only once they begin to feel sick.

Those who experience symptoms of overheating must remain in a cool rest area until they are free of symptoms. Workers with existing medical conditions or health problems such as diabetes will be more vulnerable, and anti-inflammatory medicines and medications used for high blood pressure can increase the risks. Employees must keep a close eye on each other for telltale signs of heat illness.

When temperatures rise above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, additional precautions are essential to ensure emergencies are treated promptly. California workers who do suffer heat illness this summer might want to be prepared by reviewing the necessary procedures for securing workers' compensation benefits. After receiving the necessary medical attention and reporting the incident to a supervisor or employer, victims of heat illness can seek the help of an experienced attorney to assist with the navigation of workers' compensation benefits claims.

Source: ehstoday.com, "CAL/OSHA Issues High Heat Advisory", May 9, 2018

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