With summer heat come concerns about workers’ safety

This article looks at the threat of heat-related illnesses during the summer months for workers.

This summer is turning out to be a scorcher, with temperatures well above average all across the country. While the long, balmy days may be welcomed by some, for those who work outside or in hot conditions, the soaring temperatures can be downright deadly. From farm laborers to construction workers, summer's scorching head can turn an otherwise normal working day into a tragedy. Already this year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating a number of worker fatalities that may have been caused by excessive heat and is reminding employers everywhere of their duty to protect employees from heat-related illnesses.

How dangerous is the heat?

The summer sun is dangerous for just about everyone, but especially so for those who work outside. As Occupational Health & Safety reports, OSHA received over 200 reports last year related to heat-related illnesses. In eight instances, workers died as a result of a heat-related issue while on the job in 2015.

One indication of just how dangerous the heat can be comes from Missouri, where, according to CBS News, OSHA is investigating two recent deaths of construction workers in that state. While OSHA has yet to release its final report on the deaths, heat is being investigated as a possible cause. Temperatures at the time were close to 100 degrees and the workers were on construction sites where large pieces of steel, which can magnify the heat from the sun, were present.

Duty to workers

In recent years, OSHA has been stepping up its efforts to protect workers from heat-related illnesses. While OSHA currently does not have a heat-specific standard, it can cite employers for failing to provide workers with adequate water, rest and shade from the heat under its General Duty Clause. OSHA is currently conducting a water-rest-shade campaign to raise awareness about heat-related dangers.

Some workers are at especially high risk of suffering a heat-related injury while on the job. People working outside, especially in agriculture, construction, and other physical labor jobs, tend to be exposed to the elements for much longer periods of time. However, the summer heat can affect indoor workers as well, especially those working in interior spaces that are not well ventilated or properly cooled.

Worker injuries

Nobody should suffer an injury while on the job, but sadly too many workers are injured or killed every day while trying to earn a living for themselves and their families. Any worker who has been hurt on the job should contact a workers' compensation attorney right away. An experienced attorney at the Hilley & Frieder, P.C., can help injured workers understand what financial compensation may be available to them and whether they can file a claim for workers' compensation.