As summer approaches, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently announced a national initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in the heat and ways in which employers can prevent heat-related illnesses for their employees.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said, “If you’re working outdoors, you’re at risk for heat-related illnesses that can cause serious medical problems and even death…But heat illness can be prevented. This Labor Department campaign will reach across the country with a very simple message – water, rest and shade.”
Thousands of workers suffer from heat illness or heat exhaustion every year, which can quickly lead to heat stroke if not treated. Heat stroke killed over 30 workers nationwide last year. Jobs in agriculture, construction, landscaping, road-work, and airport baggage handling are some industries particularly at risk.
OSHA has taken many recent steps to ensure a cool and safe work environment for the upcoming summer. They have partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to produce weather warnings that will issue heat alerts for workers across the U.S. OSHA has also created educational and training materials on heat illness in English and Spanish, along with their new heat illness web-page with information for employers and workers.
OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said “As we move into the summer months, it is very important for workers and employers to take the steps necessary to stay safe in extreme heat…Drinking water often, taking breaks and limiting time in the heat are simple, effective ways to prevent heat illness.”
As reported just last December, in Salisbury Construction Contractor Cited by OSHA Following Explosion, a Massachusetts contractor was penalized for a lack of heat guards that could lead to extensive heat exposure to their workers.
If you have been injured at work or have a question regarding a workers’ compensation case, contact an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer.
US Labor Department launches national outreach campaign to protect workers from heat-related illnesses, OSHA National News Release, April 26, 2011
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Contact a Massachusetts work injury lawyer if you have been injured on the job.