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Heat sickness and the summer: What employers should do

Heat and cold hazards can affect people in the workplace very quickly. During the summer, heat-related hazards are the most likely, although those working in freezers or in cold atmospheres can be exposed to dangerously low temperatures.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn't require employers to provide heating or air conditioning in a normal workplace, which is something you may be surprised to hear. OSHA does, however, ask that temperatures be controlled between 68 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Failing to do this can expose workers to temperatures that could lead to hypothermia, if it's too cold, or hyperthermia, if it's too hot.

Since it's summer, hyperthermia, heat stroke and heat exhaustion are all potential risks, as heat illnesses can be deadly. It's best if workers can acclimatize to the heat in the workplace by slowly working in warmer temperatures over time. Employers should always provide water, shade and time for rest to prevent heat exhaustion as well.

As an employee, you need to make sure you're provided with water in the workplace, as well as shade and regular breaks. If you've been gone for longer than a week or are a new worker, your employer should build up your workload over a period of time to give your body time to adjust to the conditions.

Maybe not surprisingly, it's possible that you or others in your workplace could die if exposed to heat for too long without the proper breaks or water being readily available. If you lose a loved one because of this, you're in a position to claim workers' compensation death benefits, and your attorney can help you determine if there are other benefits for which you may qualify.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Heat/Cold Hazards," accessed July 29, 2016

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Philip J. Fulton Law OfficeRepresenting Victims Of Workplace Injuries And Disability

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