Summer months are a popular time for rest and relaxation. But for those who do a majority of work outdoors, the summer heat can pose a serious health and safety risk. Each year, thousands of workers become sick due to heat-related illnesses and conditions.
The good news is that many of these instances are entirely preventable when employers and employees are able to recognize the signs of heat illnesses and implement the right safety plans ahead of time.
Summer-Related Work Injuries and Safety Concerns
Some of the most common heat-related illnesses that occur during summer include:
Increased heat during physical work can cause the body to lose water rapidly due to excessive sweating. If a person does not drink enough fluids to make up for this lost water, they can quickly become dehydrated and suffer from bodily function failure. Some symptoms of dehydration include not urinating frequently, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, and fainting.
Exposure to the sun for extended periods of time can lead to sunburns. While most sunburns are mild and will heal within a week, others can be severe and cause painful swelling and blisters. Prolonged exposure over the course of many years can also lead to skin cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
Also known as hyperthermia, heat stroke is the most severe form of heat-related illness. This occurs when a person overheats and their body temperature becomes higher than 104.0 °F. Heat stroke causes the body’s internal organs to swell and can lead to permanent damage or even death. Symptoms include an altered mental state, high body temperature, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, and seizures.
How to Keep Workers Safe During the Hot Summer Months
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that employers take extra precautions to protect workers when the temperature is higher than 85 degrees. For instance, workers should be given access to shade and cool areas, more frequent work breaks, and work accommodations that allow them to do their jobs during cooler times of the day.
Additionally, workers can further protect themselves during work outside by:
- Staying hydrated throughout the day (at least one cup of water every 30 minutes)
- Applying sunscreen before work and reapplying throughout the day
- Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses during work
- Wearing light-weight, loose clothing
- Taking more frequent breaks
- Knowing the signs of common heat-related illnesses
At The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of workers injured across the state of Georgia. Whether you need help filing a workers’ comp claim, pursuing maximum benefits, or filing an appeal after a denied claim, our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys will fight for you.
Contact our firm at (770) 629-9321 to speak with our legal team for free today.