Work Injuries Heat Up in the Summer [infographic]
Every year, thousands of workers in the US suffer heat-related injuries and the risk increases significantly during the summer months. High temperatures and humidity, contact with hot objects, and strenuous physical labor without adequate hydration and cool down periods lead to heat exhaustion, heatstroke, severe rashes, organ damage, and more. Employees who sustain heat-related work injuries or illnesses are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
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Common Heat Injuries
According to a workplace injuries report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 33 of the total 37 work-related deaths in 2015 and a huge number of the 2,830 reported nonfatal occupational illnesses and injuries occurred during the months of summer. Commonly reported heat injuries include:
- Heat Stroke: This life-threatening illness occurs when the body can no longer regulate its core temperature. The victim stops sweating and becomes unable to get rid of excess heat from the body. Signs include confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke can cause permanent damage to the brain and other vital organs and may result in death.
- Heat Exhaustion: The body’s natural response to excessive loss of water and salt caused by heavy sweating, heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke if left untreated. Signs include a headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, thirst, irritability, and heavy sweating.
- Heat Cramps: The loss of body fluids and low salt levels in the muscles from excessive sweating can cause painful cramps during or after work.
- Rhabdomyolysis: When the body suffers a fast breakdown caused by overexertion, death of muscle tissue causes irregular heart rhythms, seizures, and kidney damage.
Summer heat is also a major contributing factor for other types of workplace injuries. Fatigue, dizziness, and fogged up glasses can all lead to impaired judgment, workplace errors, and falls.
Employers are required to implement safety protocols in the workplace, which reduces personal injury claims leveled against them. These include regular water breaks, wearing protective clothing, a buddy system, shorter work shifts, and having stocked first aid stations.
Workers’ compensation benefits are payable regardless of who was at fault for the illness or injury and many people hire a workplace injury lawyer to ensure they recover full compensation for their injuries. Benefits cover medical expenses including initial and follow-up doctor’s visits, prescription costs, physical therapy, and rehabilitation expenses. Employees are also entitled to receive up to two-thirds of their total gross weekly wages when they are unable to immediately return to work.