New York’s summer heat and humidity can sicken workers

Heat-related illnesses and injuries sicken countless workers each year.

Summer is nearly here. All around upstate New York, flowers are in bloom, temps are rising, and humid conditions are arriving. Lovely as it may be after another long winter, it is the time of year when heat-related work injuries start to tick up. Employers and workers themselves must remain vigilant and cognizant of the effects of heat, humidity and sun exposure. Not exercising proper caution against the impact of warmer weather can mean serious injuries, illnesses or even death.

Being heat-aware

The first step in preparing for heat, humidity and increased sun exposure is to understand the risks. Heat-related workplace illnesses and injuries are more likely in some professions than in others. Office workers, for example, have a lower risk than construction workers. Landscaping crews, road crews and others who spend the bulk of their days outside are the most susceptible, followed by:

  • Factory and warehouse workers in enclosed spaces
  • Roofers
  • Commercial/industrial kitchen workers (bakers, chefs, line cooks, etc.)
  • HVAC installation and maintenance workers
  • Farm workers
  • Welders
  • Telecommunications workers who install telephone and satellite systems and lines

Preparing for the risks

Anyone who works in hot conditions (whether inside or outside) should be on the lookout for signs of trouble and should take prophylactic measures to prevent them. Such measures include:

  • Staying hydrated with adequate clear, non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages, especially those with added electrolytes
  • Taking frequent breaks out of direct sunlight
  • Limiting direct sun exposure whenever possible
  • Using shades or umbrellas
  • Wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
  • Wearing sunscreen

It is vitally important for workers to monitor their sweat output to help prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke; actively sweating means that the body is attempting to cool itself. Dehydration and humidity might make the body unable to sweat enough for temperature regulation. Once the body's internal thermostat fails, medical attention is vital to prevent injury or even death. Moving into the shade, sipping on cool liquids, using cool compresses and loosening clothing can help while waiting for medical services to arrive.

Heat-related conditions can result in serious injuries, including:

  • Organ failure
  • Brain damage
  • Heart attack
  • Death

Heat illnesses are eligible for workers' compensation, even though employers may try to fight against an award of benefits. If you need help seeking work comp after a heat-related condition sets in, speak with an experienced workers' compensation benefit attorney at Dennis Kenny Law. Call the firm toll-free at 888-312-5516 or contact them online today.