Establishing a safe and healthy work environment is especially important when the risk of extreme heat increases during the summer months. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 1,300 deaths per year in the United States are due to extreme heat, with several cases occurring in Florida.
Throughout the country, thousands of employees who work outdoors face potential dangers from overexposure to heat. In early 2018, Miami was projected to have 210 new high-rise construction developments proposed, under construction or recently completed, a number that continues to grow year after year. This means the number of those who are exposed to unfavorable conditions in the city is multiplying at an accelerated rate.
Before the peak of summer, make sure to assess your safety plan and implement prevention measures before being exposed to extreme heat conditions. Miami’s outdoor workers should be trained on the safety hazards of heat-related injuries due to high temperatures and humidity, direct exposure to sunlight and lack of water.
Creating a Comfortable Work Space
Make your health and safety the number one priority this summer. If you work outdoors, access to cool shaded areas, water, and periodic breaks are essential. Ask your employer if they will consider installing fans or closed air-conditioned areas, or if you work indoors, the cooling system should be clean, efficient and in working order.
Hydration is also an essential part of reducing heat-related illness. Your employer should be providing water coolers or water bottles in easily accessible areas to encourage employees to stay hydrated. Additionally, consider asking your employer if you can alter shift schedules. Planning physically demanding work in the mornings or evenings can help you avoid exposure to the heat during the hottest hours.
Be Educated About the Dangers of Overexposure to Heat
Even while taking preventative measures, heat-related injuries and illnesses can still occur. It is essential to learn how to prevent and address symptoms accordingly before the situation worsens. While exposure to the sun can cause damage or irritation to the skin such as burns or heat rash, it is also capable of more dangerous or life-threatening conditions.
Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat-related illness, and are painful aches in the body’s muscles due to low salt levels typically caused by excessive sweating. Before the condition excels, workers should replace lost fluids by drinking water and moving to a cool area.
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to the loss of water and salt, typically through excessive sweating. Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, confusion, clammy skin and a flush complexion. Workers who experience heat exhaustion should be moved to a cool area and take frequent sips of water. Cold compresses applied to the neck, forehead and chest can also help reduce body temperature.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency and occurs when the body no longer sweats. Symptoms include dry, hot reddish skin, high body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, strong rapid pulse, chills, confusion and slurred speech. Employees should be trained to call 9-1-1 immediately if a coworker is experiencing any of these signs.
Remember, your health and safety is crucial, and your employer’s failure to provide an environment with acceptable conditions could lead to legal action. Contact us to learn more about your legal options for filing a claim related to workplace injury.