For weeks now, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has been reminding business owners of their responsibilities to protect employees from heat-related illnesses. These reminders typically focus on employers in construction, landscaping and agriculture from where many workers’ compensation claims originate. However, the hospitality industry with facilities that have outdoor entertainment areas must not be forgotten. These could include children’s play areas, patio dining establishments and sidewalk shopping venues.
While it is essential to keep customers safe, any staff who is scheduled to do duty in outdoor areas must also be protected. Employers must provide safety training to teach employees about the hazards of heat exposure and how to recognize symptoms in each other that might indicate the onset of heat exhaustion. Early identification of problems can be treated by simply getting into a cool area and taking in fluids, but if left untreated, it can lead to heat stroke, which could cause death.
Employee policies that are heat-friendly can also keep workers safe from insect-hazards that are prevalent during the summer months. Workers who are exposed to outdoor heat must be allowed extra breaks to cool down in air-conditioned or shaded areas. They must also have access to plenty of cool, fresh water — a cup every 15 to 20 minutes is recommended.
California workers who suffer heat-related illnesses that require medical treatment can claim those expenses from the workers’ compensation insurance system. Furthermore, anyone whose condition prevents his or her return to work can also claim wage replacement benefits. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can explain the benefits to which a worker is entitled and assist with the navigation of the claim.