With the summer heat setting in, many residents in Ohio are enjoying the warm weather. While it is typically ideal weather to spend time at the beach, it is not always ideal for workers when they spend eight plus hours outdoors in the heat. Spending long periods of time in the heat can be dangerous for workers, causing heat stress. This could ultimately lead to injuries or illnesses requiring medical treatment for the worker.
Both the construction and agricultural industries are known to require workers to spend extended hours outdoors, sometimes in the extreme elements. No matter the industry a person works in, however, it is important to understand how heat stress could impact an employee. Even more so, it is critical to explore how heat stress could give rise to a workers' compensation action.
Occupational illnesses related to heat can range from minor to serious. This can include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rashes. While training can help reduce the impact this can have on workers, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure certain resources, such as drinking water, shade and frequent breaks in cool areas, are made available to employees working in the heat.
Because heat illnesses are prevalent this time of year and can be serious, 25 states have adopted an OSHA approved plan that complies with heat illness prevention regulations and enforcement. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in a lawsuit if a worker suffers an injury as a result of a heat illness.
When a worker suffers an occupational illness, this can impact that person's ability to work. It could further impact a person's health. It is important that workers understand how they can limit and offset these scenarios. Workers' compensation could help address costs while also helping a worker recover and get back to work.