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Workers: Beware these heat-related illnesses and injuries

People often think of summer as a time to relax, take vacations and spend time enjoying the outdoors. However, summer can also be a dangerous time, especially for people who work outside.

As noted in an article from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, dozens of people die every year as a result of working in extreme heat or humidity; thousands of others suffer serious illnesses and painful injuries. If you work outside, being aware of heat-related hazards can help you take steps to avoid dangerous situations.

Common types of heat-related conditions people can suffer from during the hot summer months include:

  • Heat stress
  • Heat rash
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke
  • Severe sunburns

Watch out for warning signs such as dehydration, dizziness and difficulty concentrating.

How to prevent heat-related injuries and illness

When you are working in very hot, sunny conditions, you should have immediate access to:

  • Shade
  • Water
  • Frequent breaks
  • Sunscreen, hats, and other types of sun protection

You may want to talk to your employer about the opportunity to gradually increase your workload while your build a tolerance to the heat. It could also be feasible to adjust your schedule to work early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid peak temperatures and sunlight. Workers should also know who they can call for help if they need it.

What to do when an injury or illness does occur

Unfortunately, workers can get hurt or sick when these precautions are absent or fail.

In many cases, if your heat-related condition stems from your employment, you may be eligible for workers' compensation. However, determining eligibility can be a challenge, particularly for seasonal workers and people who may not be classified as an employee, so it can be helpful to consult an attorney to discuss your options.

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