The Occupational Safety and Healthy Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency responsible for enforcing laws related to workplace safety and health. In Georgia, OSHA representatives recently met with construction workers on job sites to discuss the dangers of heat stroke.
As summer drags on and temperatures linger near all-time highs, the danger of heat related workplace injuries grow exponentially. The risk is especially high for workers in the trades or those whose jobs are primarily located outdoors or near intense sources of heat and require intense physical effort.
What Is Heat Stroke?
Early stages of heat stroke are identified as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rashes. When these have progressed to heat stroke, the victim’s body is unable to maintain a healthy internal temperature. Body temperatures can rise to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within minutes. As the body can no longer keep cool, vital organs begin to sustain permanent damage. If treatment is not given immediately, death can result.
Signs of Heat Stroke
- Hot, dry skin
- Excessive sweating
- Throbbing headache
- High body temperature
- Confusion or dizziness
- Slurred speech
Treating Heat Stroke
If you or a coworker experiences these symptoms, immediate treatment is necessary. First, call 911 and move the victim to a cool, shaded area. Do everything you can do reduce their body temperature, including soaking them and their clothes with water and fanning their body while you wait for emergency medical professionals to arrive.
What Can Employers Do?
Employers are responsible for the well being of their employees. Scheduling more strenuous jobs for early morning hours can help ensure employees do not become victims of the heat. If possible, when planning large projects, scheduling the most physically demanding parts of the job for cooler months can also be helpful. Using additional relief workers for particularly demanding tasks can help mitigate risk. Lastly, providing cool water on the job site with mini water breaks in shady areas throughout the day is a step to keep your employees safe and healthy. The more an employer can do to keep workers comfortable, safe and thinking clearly, the safer and more productive they will be.
If you or someone you know suffered heat stroke while on the job, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us for a free consultation. Our attorneys specialize in workplace injuries, and heat stroke is a very serious condition of which the long-term effects can be devastating, if not deadly.