Heat-Related Illness Is a Serious Concern for Ohio Workers

Concerns of heat stroke and workers' compWhenever the heat rises in Ohio, outdoor workers take the brunt of it. It is not only miserable to work in hot conditions, but it can also be hazardous for your health. When an individual suffers from heat exhaustion or heatstroke, they can experience debilitating physical effects requiring medical treatment and long recovery times.

If you were exposed to high temperatures on the job and became ill because of it, you might file for workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical costs and time away from work.

Read on to learn more about the dangers of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illnesses

Exposure to high temperatures for an extended period puts people at risk of suffering heat exhaustion or heatstroke. This is especially true when they exert themselves in the heat.

No two people will respond to heat exposure in the same way, so one person on a job site can become ill while other workers are okay. Age, weight, and other health conditions can make it more difficult for some people to work in the heat. Regardless of individual responses, it's dangerous for anyone to be working in temperatures above 85 degrees without access to shade, water, and frequent breaks.

People generally show symptoms of heat exhaustion before having heatstroke, so it's essential to monitor workers for these early-warning symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Pale or ashen skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue, weakness, or exhaustion
  • Headache, dizziness, or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate

If you or a co-worker experiences these symptoms, it's essential to cool down and rehydrate quickly. If early signs are missed, a worker could suffer heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke include:

  • Skin that's flushed, dry and hot to the touch—sweating has usually stopped
  • Rapid breathing
  • Headache, dizziness, confusion, or other signs of altered mental status
  • Irrational or belligerent behavior
  • Body temperature above 103 degrees
  • Convulsions or unresponsiveness

Emergency medical treatment is necessary for someone with these symptoms, as untreated heatstroke can be fatal. Even with treatment, a person with heatstroke could suffer permanent injuries, including kidney damage. The condition usually requires several days of hospitalization, and it could take several months to recover fully. In these situations, it would be appropriate to file a workers’ comp claim.

Workers Most at Risk for Heat-Related Illnesses

Anyone who works outside in the summer is at risk for heatstroke, but people who work indoors in high-temperature environments are at risk all year long. In the summer of 2020, more people are being required to work outdoors to decrease the spread of the coronavirus, so heat-related illnesses will positively affect more people than usual.

Workers who may be at risk of heatstroke include:

  • Construction crews
  • Roofers
  • Road repair crews
  • Landscapers
  • Lifeguards
  • Golf-course attendants
  • Restaurant servers and bussers
  • Cooks, bakers, and kitchen workers
  • Amazon warehouse workers
  • Delivery truck drivers
  • Assembly plant workers
  • Airport workers
  • Fitness instructors

While these workers may be at an increased risk, anyone who is exposed to heat while working can become ill because of it.

Filing for Workers’ Comp With Heatstroke

If heat exhaustion or heatstroke led to medical treatment and missed work, you could file a workers’ comp claim with your employer. Because certain types of people are more prone to heatstroke—including people over the age of 65 and those with certain health conditions—your employer may claim it was a pre-existing condition that caused the illness, not the duties of your job.

If this happens to you, give my office a call. We would love to hear your story and tell you how we might help. To learn more about your right to workers’ compensation, request a free download of my book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio

 

James Monast
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Fighting for Ohio’s Injured Workers and their Families