Protecting Your Employees from Heat-Related Injuries

A landscaper dressed in orange protective gear using a hedge trimmer to cut dried up hedges in the heatThe summer months can be grueling for those working outdoors, especially for landscapers, masons, and construction workers. Intense heat – especially now during the dog days of summer – can result in varying illnesses and injuries and can affect workers regardless of age or physical condition. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps to protecting your employees from heat-related injuries and additional measures you can take to safeguard your business.

What Types of Heat-Related Injuries Can Occur?

Before discussing avoidance, let’s take a look at the type of heat-related illnesses that can arise from excessive exposure. Working outdoors for long periods during extreme heat can result in:

  • Heatstroke: A heatstroke – also spelled “heat stroke” – occurs when one’s body temperature rises beyond 104 degrees within a matter of minutes. This can be characterized by a rapid heart rate, nausea, and even death.
  • Heat Exhaustion: When exposed to heat for an extended period, one’s body loses water and salt via sweat. If not allowed to rest, drink water, and replenish nutrients, a worker can experience a wide range of life-threatening symptoms.
  • Heat Cramps: Some people may experience prolonged muscle spasms and extreme pain as a result of too much heat.
  • Heat Rash: This is characterized by irritated skin caused by excessive sweating.

Fortunately, many of these ailments can be avoided by being mindful of symptoms and providing a safe and healthy work environment.

What Steps Can You Take to Prevent Heat-Related Injuries?

Actions can be taken on behalf of both the employer and the employee to minimize the risk of heat-related injuries.

Employer Safety Measures

Employers can perform steps to limit liability exposure and protect their employees. Some tips to mitigate these harmful situations include:

  • Provide continuous access to water.
  • Ensure workers are taking their breaks.
  • Provide a shaded area for employees to rest.
  • Train employees on the warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses.

Employers should also study OSHA’s Water. Rest. Shade Campaign to understand the laws and regulations regarding heat exposure on job sites.

Employee Safety Measures

Employers shouldn’t have to carry full responsibility for worker safety. Employees also need to take steps to safeguard their and their coworkers’ health. These steps include:

  • Drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.
  • Apply sunscreen frequently.
  • If possible, wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Wear protective eyewear to defend against harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • Do not skip breaks.
  • Learn about the symptoms of heat-related conditions.

Employees should also inform themselves of their labor rights and the employer’s legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Insurance’s Role Regarding Heat-Related Injuries

While the safety of your employees is of utmost concern, you want to also ensure your business is protected from financial losses resulting from a heat-related incident. Fortunately, an employee can file a workers’ compensation claim if their injuries are proven to be caused by outdoor exposure to heat, which will cover medical bills, missed time at work, and loss of wages. However, if the injury is a result of a pre-existing condition, the employee can only file a claim if their condition was unnecessarily aggravated due to employer negligence.

Protecting your employees from heat-related injuries takes a fair amount of oversight, but it’s crucial to ensure no harm befalls your employees. Heatstroke and related illnesses are particularly dangerous as we continue to see record highs throughout the US. At TJ Woods Insurance, we can protect your business from financial harm resulting from such injuries. We can outfit you with workers’ compensation and the rest of your business insurance needs to ensure you’re protected on all fronts. Contact us today to see how you can better safeguard your company.