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On-the-job heatstroke a real problem for workers

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2019 | Workplace Injuries

The Northeast was recently in the grip of a massive heatwave that threatened the lives and well-being of many residents. While there is no way to control the weather, there definitely are ways to combat the heat and its effects.

However, some individuals are at particular risk of being adversely affected by the heat in their own workplaces. For some workers, these high-heat conditions are not weather-dependent and are simply every day working conditions for those in certain job sectors.

Which jobs have extremely high-heat conditions?

Obviously, anyone toiling under the hot summer sun faces risks from their heat exposures. But some workers are exposed to heat hazards through radiant heat and contact with hot equipment.

Below are some of the workplaces and industries where heat can cause serious injuries and death to workers:

  • Iron and steel foundries
  • Chemical plants
  • Commercial kitchens
  • Ceramic plants with brick-firing ovens
  • Steam tunnels
  • Glass and rubber products facilities
  • Electrical utilities
  • Laundries
  • Boiler rooms
  • Smelters
  • Confectioneries
  • Bakeries
  • Canneries
  • Mining sites

Perhaps the most deadly consequence of working in these high-heat intensity environments is heat stroke. The good news is that it is almost 100% preventable.

What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke is the life-threatening condition that can occur when the human body can no longer effectively cool itself down. The blood heats up to dangerous temperatures as high as 104*F. The victim’s heart rate speeds up and they can become confused, unable to concentrate or focus. They might throw up or become irritable. If they are not removed from the hot environment and immediately cooled down, they have a real danger of dying.

What to do in case of heat stroke

First, call 911. Then, suspected heat stroke victims should be moved into a cool environment immediately. Remove any restrictive or extra clothing and mist them with a spray bottle of cool water while a fan blows directly on them.

You can also place ice packs or cold towels strategically on the following body parts:

  • Head
  • Neck
  • Armpits
  • Groin

The person should be transported as soon as possible to a medical facility for further evaluation and treatment.

Keep safer in hot workplace environments

Of course, it is always better to avoid a problem than to cope with its aftermath. Companies with high-heat environments have a duty to their workforce to prevent workers from falling ill with heat stroke. They include:

  • Providing proper ventilation and adequate air-conditioning
  • Scheduling regular breaks and rest cycles for workers exposed to extreme heat
  • Providing cold, potable water for their employees
  • Allowing workers to adjust gradually to the heat

Were you injured by high-heat conditions at work?

If you suffered a heat-related incident at work, you should know that you may have the right to seek financial and potentially other benefits from workers’ compensation. A Burlington County worker’s compensation attorney can review your case and provide advice and direction.