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Climate change increases risks of workplace injuries

California was the first state to establish safety standards to protect outdoor workers from excessive heat exposure. Safety authorities suggest that California might also be the first to set safety limits for indoor workers. Heat-related workplace injuries could be deadly, and the heat levels in California over recent years have been higher than ever, causing concern over the impact of climate change on hundreds of thousands of indoor workers.

Reportedly, tests were done by giving heat sensors to workers in industries that included canneries, car washes, garment factories, warehouses and more. The results indicated that most employees in buildings without air conditioning spend approximately 50 percent of their shifts in heat that exceeds the proposed standards. Safety authorities say some of the workers recorded late-night and morning heat levels that were dangerously high.

A 68-year-old worker who spends a lot of time unloading containers attempted to describe the heat to which he is exposed. He said every drop of his sweat sizzles as it falls onto the metal of the container. The California Division of Safety and Health is working on a proposal to set indoor heat standards that will prevent injuries caused by heat stress.

Until these standards are set, victims of heat stress or any other workplace injuries might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. A California attorney who has experience in dealing with the state-regulated insurance system can assist with the navigation of benefits claims. Medical expenses are typically covered, and workers whose injuries prevented them from returning to work for several days can expect to receive a wage-replacement package.

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