Construction is already one of the most dangerous jobs, and extreme weather increases the risk of serious injury or death. Ice and snow in winter pose obvious risks, but what about extreme heat? According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 100 outdoor workers died as a result of heat-related illness between 2008 and 2014. From dehydration to heat exhaustion, the risks can be dramatically reduced by following the tips below. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.
When the sun is blazing and temperatures are at or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it is crucial to take proper precautions against heat-related illness. It is an employer’s duty to provide a safe working environment for employees and contractors. If a supervisor neglects to do this, or prevents you from taking necessary water breaks or time out of direct sun in periods of high heat, he or she may be found negligent. If you suffer any work-related injuries, including those related to excessive heat, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Protect Yourself from the Heat
Hydrate. When temperatures are high, it is essential to drink plenty of water throughout the day. It’s always a good idea to stay hydrated, but during extreme heat, it can be the difference between life and death. If water is too boring for you, try an electrolyte-infused beverage such as Gatorade, or add a slice of lemon. But avoid designer energy drinks at all costs. Drinks such as Red Bull and Monster Energy provide little hydration, are full of sugar and caffeine, and have been associated with heart arrhythmia, heart failure, and death. If you simply need something sweet, it’s OK to drink lemonade and other citrus beverages, but try and dilute them with water.
Pack a healthy lunch. Your choice of food can be just as important as your choice of drink. For starters, snacking on junk food all day might hurt more than just your waistline. The excess salt will make it harder to stay hydrated, and the high fat content and preservatives can add stress to your body in high-heat situations. A light, nutritious lunch, especially with hydrating fruits and vegetables, is best.
Work at a cooler time of day, if possible. Obviously, it’s not always feasible to avoid the hottest part of the day – between 10 am and 2 pm – but on extremely hot days, it may be wise to start earlier, take a longer lunch break, and work later. Supervisors should be on the lookout for signs of fatigue when temps soar above 90, and breaks should be given more frequently than normal.
Stay in the shade. If you can, work in shaded areas. In extreme heat, use umbrellas or canopies wherever possible, even if only as a temporary respite from direct sun exposure. Supervisors should provide sunblock to all crew members who request it. Consider wearing a wide-brim hard hat, or purchase a visor that can be attached to your existing hat. There are several other hot-weather clothing items, such as nape protectors and vented vests, that may offer some protection and relief.
Listen to your body’s signals, and look out for one another. Strange behavior is often a sign of heat exhaustion or other heat-related illness. If a co-worker appears disoriented or lethargic, or if he or she begins stumbling or slurring speech, get help immediately. Heat exhaustion is dangerous enough on it’s own, let alone in close proximity to heavy machinery and tools. Likewise, if you begin to ‘feel funny’, fatigued, extremely thirsty, or dizzy, ask for help right away.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Protecting Massachusetts’ Workforce for More than 50 Years
If you have been injured in any type of work-related accident, we can help. Our skilled workers’ compensation team will analyze the details of your case prior to moving forward with a legal strategy. We will help ensure that you get the full benefits you deserve in a timely manner. If it seems that negligence may have played a role in your injuries, you may be entitled to additional compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free consultation about your case.