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What OSHA says about Heat Stress

| Jun 6, 2014 | Uncategorized |

Employees who are exposed to extended periods of heat, such as those who work in the construction and agriculture industry, may subject themselves to heat stress or illness, and other injuries related to it. The usual examples are heat stroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat rashes. Several companies have installed interventions such as adequate ventilation and shade to prevent this from happening, but some choose to ‘save’ money and leave their employees at the mercy of the scorching heat. However, this not only poses a risk against the company’s productivity, as more sick workers mean less work being done – but also a risk against the company’s reputation. If you or a loved one has suffered from heat stress as your employer failed to provide a way to prevent this from happening, contact The Kyle Law Firm so we can discuss your case.

As such, the OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Act has installed several guidelines when it comes to preventing heat stress from employees:

  1. Workers are permitted to drink water freely
  2. For every worker, at least one (1) pint of water is recommended to prevent dehydration
  3. Work-rest programs should be established and implemented to limit the time of exposure to high temperatures
  4. Employers should install shades or assign a shifting system so that one worker is not exposed to too much heat for a prolonged period of time
  5. Employers are to develop heat stress programs that will incorporate the following:
  • A training program that will help employees recognize and reduce heat stress
  • A screening program that will help identify any heat-related health conditions that are present in its employees
  • An acclimation program for new/returning employees to the organization
  • A set of comprehensive and specific procedures that are to be observed and followed if emergencies arise
  • A set of provisions that will allow the immediate administration of first aid to those who are displaying signs of heat stress

There are several ways that heat stress can be manifested:

Heat Stroke

This is perhaps considered as the most serious of heat stress conditions, which happens when the body is no longer able to regulate and control its temperature. As a result, the temperature of the body rises and the body’s sweating ability (to cool off) fails. Heat stroke has been known to result in permanent disability or even death, if emergency treatment is not applied.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion happens when the body gets dehydrated while losing too much salt. Those who have high blood pressure and the elderly are vulnerable to suffering from this kind of condition.

Heat Syncope

This refers to an episode of fainting or dizziness if an employee stands for a long period of time, or suddenly stands up from a seated position. It may also be a result of dehydration.

Heat Rash

When the skin sweats excessively, the skin may be irritated and form rashes.

Heat Cramps

When there is a low level of salt in the muscles as a result of excessive sweating, heat cramps may happen. Furthermore, this is a possible symptom of heat exhaustion.

If you feel that your rights are being violated, raise your concerns to the OSHA by filing a written complaint. If you wish to pursue apersonal injury case because you suffered from heat stress, contact The Kyle Law Firm to have a discussion with our lawyers who can help you with your concerns.