Heat Related Work Injuries

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor reported approximately 2650 workers suffered from some degree of heat related illness with 18 of these resulting in death. As our Florida summer temperatures rise, it’s time to review the basics again to keep workers safe. After all, all heat related illnesses are preventable!

OSHA laws hold employers responsible for providing their workers with reasonably safe work environments. Extreme heat is a known safety hazard if proper precautions are not exercised. For Florida employers with workers exposed to the “heat of the day,” heat illness prevention measures such as plenty of extra water, rest and shade is only the beginning. Employers should also monitor employees for signs of illness and have a plan for responding to emergencies. Early recognition of the signs of heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke can make a difference in the level of injury and recovery.

If you are a worker with any exposure to the Florida sun and heat, protect yourself with light colored clothing, a hat that shades the face and neck, drink water every 15 minutes even when not thirsty, rest in the shade to cool down, and know the signs of heat illness. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headaches, sweaty skin, weakness, cramps, nausea (with or without vomiting), and fast heart rate. Heat Stroke is more advanced with symptoms of red hot and dry skin, high body temperature, confusion, convulsions, and/or feinting. Action should be taken at the first sign of heat illness.

To raise awareness about these dangers, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers and trade associations conducted a one-hour Safety Stand-Down at construction sites and workplaces in eight Southern states from June 27 to July 1, 2016. Workers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee stopped work voluntarily for one hour at 7 a.m. EDT to conduct safety training focused on how to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and prevent these illnesses when working in hot weather. For more information about this Stand-Down, visit the DOL OSHA website at https://www.osha.gov/index.html

Heat related illnesses may still happen, and when they do, these illnesses are normally covered under workers compensation. If you have questions about Florida workers’ compensation, contact the experienced attorneys with Syfrett, Dykes & Furr at (850) 795-4979

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