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Why is heat dangerous in a work environment?

The summer can be devastatingly hot, making work more difficult for those exposed to high temperatures. Without proper breaks and shade, heat can be dangerous or deadly to workers. This is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created the criteria for a recommended standard for occupational exposure to heat and hot environments.

Heat itself can result in injuries, disease, death and reduced productivity in the workplace. The stress of working in a hot environment can make it easier for workers to make mistakes or take shortcuts to get out of the heat or sun. In 2014, it was found that there is evidence that heat stress is increasing in many work environments, particularly those around the equator, where the temperatures rise and fall in relation to climate change.

When you’re exposed to heat in the workplace and also perform strenuous activities like lifting or running, you’re at risk for heat stress. It can lead to injuries due to cramping, heat rashes, dizziness, sweaty palms and even reduced brain functions.

The most serious of all heat-related illnesses you could come across in the workplace is exertional heat stroke; recognizing it is key to helping you and your workers stay safe. If a person is no longer sweating, is hot to the touch or falls unconscious, this is a potential cause; emergency care should be provided.

When someone suffers injuries from heat in the workplace, he or she is generally entitled to workers’ compensation coverage. If you’re prepared to make a claim, speaking to your employer and attorney helps you make sure all the correct paperwork is being submitted.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Occupational Exposure to Heat and Hot Environments,” accessed Aug. 10, 2016

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