Following warnings of high temperatures in California by the National Weather Service, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health reminded employers of their responsibility to protect workers from known hazards. Having a prevention plan to prevent heat-related workplace injuries is one of the requirements included in the Cal/OSHA safety standards. By assessing each employee’s level of risk based on his or her duties and exposure to heat, appropriate steps can prevent heat illness.
Among those most vulnerable are workers in the construction injury, along with agricultural workers and landscapers. Other at-risk workers are groundskeepers, security guards and others who spend significant parts of their workdays outdoors. Delivery truck drivers and other transportation employees who spend most of their work hours in vehicles that are not air-conditioned can also be overcome by heat exhaustion.
Workers must have access to shaded rest areas and sufficient amounts of fresh water that can cool them down and prevent dehydration. Cal/OSHA requires employers to encourage employees to take frequent drinks and also rest breaks. All staff members should receive the necessary training to recognize telltale signs of heat illness in co-workers and the importance of taking immediate steps to prevent worsening conditions that might lead to death.
Any worker who suffered heat-related workplace injuries or illness will likely be eligible for financial assistance. An experienced California workers’ compensation attorney can assist with the process of claiming benefits. Benefits typically cover medical bills and lost wages, and the surviving family members of victims who succumbed to heat illness will receive compensation to cover the funeral and burial costs along with other benefits applicable under state laws.