Summer Heat Hazards and Employer Liability

Summer’s heat is great for days at the beach and nights on the patio, but too much heat can present a serious danger for some employees.  The law requires employers to protect at-risk workers from heat hazards.  Failure to comply can land employers in trouble with OSHA, the ADA, workers’ compensation, and criminal law in the form of battery, negligence, and reckless conduct.  Worse, neglected heat safety can cause employee injury or death.

Because of heat’s potential hazard to safety and health, OSHA regulates heat in the workplace.  Heat can come from many sources, including the sun (for outdoor workers), a too-hot building, and personal protective equipment, which can prevent the natural release of body heat.  Overheating can lead to employee illness, such as confusion, loss of muscle control, nausea, vomiting, and death.  By the time an employee feels thirsty or “off,” dehydration has already occurred.  Where a heat hazard exists, employers are required to implement protective measures for their employees.

How can employers protect against heat hazards?  The first step is to consult with employees to identify potential heat hazards.  Methods should then be introduced to correct or mitigate the hazards.  Protection can come in the form of rest breaks, readily available drinking water, duty rotation, cooling vests, or improved ventilation.  Another important step is employee training.  Teach employees and supervisors about heat illness: how it happens, what are the symptoms, and what to do if they or a coworker exhibits signs of heat-related illness.  As a failsafe, first-aid services should also be readily available.

If you’re an employee who has been injured by an on-the-job heat hazard, you may be entitled to compensation.  Hornberger & Brewer’s personal injury attorneys have a successful track record of proving negligence in major personal injury litigation.  Depending on your unique case, we can pursue monetary damages for pain and suffering, lost income, medical bills, permanent injury or disfigurement, and wrongful death.  We offer a free consultation on all major personal injury actions.  Put our firm’s reputation to work for your personal injury case!

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