There are a lot of people who pick up summer jobs that expose them to grueling physical labor and temperatures that their bodies simply aren’t prepared to handle.
The construction industry, for example, often sees an influx of summertime help when the construction season goes into full swing. Amusement parks pick up a lot of young, inexperienced workers to walk around in costumes, man the concession stands and control the rides. Landscaping and painting companies often pick up summertime help from temporary staffing agencies.
Whatever the industry, however, it’s negligent for an employer to throw a brand new employee into a job where he or she will be exposed to the bright sun and soaring temperatures without giving his or her body a chance to acclimate to the work and conditions.
There are numerous things that an employer can do to make sure that new employees have a chance to let their bodies adjust to the working conditions:
— Start new employees out working half days for at least the first week or two. That can help them learn to handle the labor and heat.
— Make sure that both new and old employees are regularly trained on both the symptoms of heat-related illness and what first aid to administer.
— Establish a strict break schedule and require employees to take their breaks. Breaks should be inside where there is air conditioning or at least in the shade.
— Keep a steady supply of cold water and drinking cups ready or cold bottled water available and encourage employees to drink it.
— Watch the heat index daily. If it rises, schedule more frequent rotations in and out of the “hot” jobs and more frequent breaks. When possible, switch workers to less strenuous jobs until the heat index drops. Be aggressive about enforcing heat-safety policies.
When the dangers of excessive heat combined with physical labor are ignored, employees can suffer permanent heat-related injuries. Heat stroke can actually be fatal. Employees should know that if they feel dizzy, confused, overheated and sick to their stomachs, it’s okay to stop work and cool down. Otherwise, they may faint, have a seizure, go into a coma or die.
If your loved one was the victim of a employer’s failure to take preventative measures against heat-related illnesses, consider talking to an attorney about a wrongful death claim.
Source: OSHA.gov, “Heat Illness Can Be Deadly,” accessed May 18, 2017