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Heat Illness: OSHA Begins Prevention Campaign

The summer of 2012 has been brutally hot across most of the country. Northeastern Pennsylvania certainly has not been spared.

The effects of such extreme heat are many. One of the most severe can be heat illness suffered on the job. Thousands of people become sick at work every year due to excessive heat exposure. Such illness can even be fatal if not detected and treated properly.

In effort to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths on the job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has initiated an awareness campaign to educate both employers and employees about the dangers of working outside when it's hot.

Not surprisingly, the workplace safety precautions OSHA recommends begin with drinking enough water. But water alone may not be enough to protect against heat illnesses. These illnesses can include rashes and cramps, as well as heat exhaustion.

The most serious of all is heat stroke, which is life-threatening and calls for immediate medical care.

In addition to drinking lots of water, using rest breaks and staying in the shade when possible are good heat illness prevention strategies for people working outside in high heat and humidity.

Of course, if you are a construction worker who is working on an outdoor site, shade may be hard to come by. But both employers and employees should be aware of the effects of the sun and respond accordingly.

For example, in 2011 a professional football player died from heat stroke suffered during training camp drills held during the hottest time of the day. To avoid such incidents, employers should try to structure an outdoor workday to minimize the amount of time workers are exposed to peak temperatures.

Source: "OSHA's Campaign to Prevent Illness in Outdoor Workers," Occupational Safety and Health Administration"

•· Our firm represents workers who have suffered illness or injury on the job. Follow the link to learn more about our workplace injuries practice.

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