The U.S. can’t agree on much right now, but we can all agree on one thing: it has been a hot summer. Temperatures are spiking across the nation, including here in California. The heat isn’t just a problem for those who love to spend time outdoors. It is a hazard for those who work outside and those who work indoors in warehouses, bakeries, foundries and other already-hot environments.
Excessive heat can cause dangerous medical conditions like heat stroke and dehydration. It can also make workers less focused and more prone to workplace accidents. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a web page dedicated to safety in high-heat environments.
Heat and humidity are an especially dangerous combination because they make it very difficult for the body to cool itself down. When environmental temperatures reach or exceed body temperature, body heat cannot effectively escape. And if humidity levels in the air are high, workers will sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate to cool them down. That means they lose fluid without losing any body heat.
- If you need to be working outside or in very hot indoor environments, please remember these safety tips to prevent heat-related illness and injury:
- Take frequent rest breaks, either in shade or an air-conditioned area, if possible.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids.
- Pay attention to symptoms like dizziness, blurred vision and trouble focusing. Take a break if you start to experience these.
- Have a discussion with your employer and your co-workers about what to do if someone faints or experiences other emergency symptoms related to heat.
As always, prevention of workplace accidents and illnesses is the goal. But if you do suffer a heat-related illness or injury on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Please discuss your rights and legal options with a workers’ compensation attorney in your area.