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As the weather heats up, heat-related injuries become a danger

Not all workplace accidents involve heavy equipment, dangerous machinery or large holes that people can fall into. Some injuries have nothing to do with something tangible at all. In fact, they are caused by Mother Nature herself, but this doesn’t mean that employers can’t take the necessary precautions to protect their employees.

Summers in North Carolina can get quite hot for those that work for a longer period of time outdoors. Construction workers often spend their days out in the elements or in a building that has no air conditioning system yet installed. For these individuals, heat stress is something that they have to watch out for.

There are several different kinds of heat-related illnesses and injuries, including heat stroke, exhaustion, syncope, cramps and rash. Health consequences of these different issues can range from fainting to burns and all the way to permanent disability and even death.

Heat stroke is the most dangerous of all of these injuries, and one of the ones that can lead to fatal consequences. It doesn’t take long, a matter of 10 to 15 minutes, for the body to increase its core temperature well past a healthy level and up to or even over 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

Employers can help prevent these injuries and illnesses by ensuring that their employees have enough water breaks on hot days, protective gear when working near steam and other heat sources and thorough training on how to spot heat-related symptoms and treat them appropriately.

Workers that do suffer a heat-related illness or injury while on the job may be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits. An attorney can help them determine their options and their next steps for ensuring that they have the resources they need to recover.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Heat Stress,” April 11, 2014

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