National Heatstroke Prevention Day was held on July 31. Underscoring the dangers of heat-related workplace injuries at this time makes sense because of the heatwaves that have threatened many outdoor workers so far this summer. The issues highlighted by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health include the fact that a significant percentage of heat-illness incidents involve workers on their first day of work.
Cal/OSHA’s guidelines suggest employers allow workers to acclimatize for up to seven days to build up resilience to heat. When workers are ready to work full shifts in the heat, employers must provide adequate water and shade. They must also provide the necessary protective clothing and equipment to prevent heat exposure and allow workers to take frequent rest breaks throughout each shift.
Scheduling work in high-heat areas in rotating shifts could prevent heat illness, and it might be a good idea to set outdoor work for the times when it is cooler. Supervisors and workers must learn to identify the early symptoms of heat illness, such as weakness, dizziness, blurred vision, headache and nausea. It is also crucial for workers to learn what to do when they, or co-workers, show telltale signs of heat exhaustion.
Any California workers who suffered heat-related workplace injuries will be eligible to have their medical expenses covered by the state-regulated workers’ compensation insurance program. Those whose medical conditions caused temporary disability might also receive benefits to cover a percentage of lost wages. This might seem a daunting process, but an experienced workers’ comp attorney can assist every step along the way.