Working outdoors in the heat can result in several potentially dangerous health conditions, including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat rash and heat cramps. Each of these conditions has unique symptoms; however, without treatment, they can result in serious problems.
Many workers have no choice but to work outdoors. While this is the case, both employees and employers must take steps to reduce the likelihood of heat-related illnesses and injuries.
What employees are at-risk for heat-related issues?
While anyone can experience heat-related problems when working outdoors, some are more prone to these conditions than others. For example, those with diabetes, kidney, lung or heart disease and people taking certain medications are much more likely to deal with heat stress issues.
When first starting to work in an outdoor environment, it takes a person about two to three weeks to get fully acclimated. Also, when someone takes off work for just a few days, they will need to take time to reacclimate.
How employers and supervisors can help prevent worker heat stress
It’s smart for employers and supervisors to take steps to ensure workers don’t experience heat stress issues. Some steps to implement in an outdoor working environment include:
- Provide workers with time to acclimate to the climate
- Adjust worker’s schedules accordingly
- Reduce the worker’s assigned tasks
- Schedule regular breaks and rest periods on hot days
- Train workers to spot signs of heat stress
Your legal rights when affected by heat-related issues on the job
If you experience a heat-related issue while at work, you may have the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Get to know your options when this happens so you can protect your rights and health.