It has been a long, hot summer so our North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog has been trying to keep you posted on the dangers of heat stress at Asheville jobsites or heat illnesses related to outdoor and indoor jobs throughout the state.
Winston-Salem workers’ compensation attorneys know that thousands of workers risk their lives every day while working in prolonged heat exposure, which can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
We remind you of a fatal incident involving a tobacco farmer in North Carolina, who had been working out in the fields in temperatures between 100 and 110 degrees. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the worker complained to the crew chief of feeling ill and within an hour he was found unconscious.
After being transported to the hospital, medical professionals found his core body temperature registered at 108 degrees before later pronouncing the farm employee dead.
This incident and thousands of others have raised awareness about what can happen if a worker stays out in the heat for too long or fails to get enough hydration. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports that there were over 30 deaths attributed to work related heat stroke in 2009. High heat illness rates are reported in many industries, including airline and baggage workers, workers on the farm, landscapers, roofers and construction workers to name a few.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis released information recently about a new mobile device application offered free to workers and managers that can bring work site heat index information right to your phone. It is currently available to Android users and will soon be available to Blackberry and iPhone subscribers.
“Summer heat presents a serious issue that affects some of the most vulnerable workers in our country, and education is crucial to keeping them safe,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Heat-related illnesses are preventable.”
The phone application will combine heat index (heat temperatures and humidity) information with the phone subscriber’s location and determine if preventative measures should be taken. The application will offer the necessary precautions to be taken which may include rest breaks, drinking more water or changing a planned work activity. Other information included on the app are signs or symptoms to look for related to heat stroke and heat exhaustion and what first aid can be conducted to help save a life or prevent further illness.
Supervisors and workers can contact OSHA directly right through the phone application.
To download the free Heat Safety Tool application to your phone, click here.
Not only are employers responsible for providing their workers with plenty of rest breaks, cold water and shaded areas to escape the heat, they are required to have an emergency plan in place if heat illness sets in during work hours. Providing training to employees on what symptoms to look for is key in reducing the number of heat illness cases on the job.
Other recommendations include:
-Develop a hydration plan which can encourage workers to stop at recommended intervals to get a drink of water. Providing water at their fingertips will also increase the likelihood that they will stop for a drink.
-Check weather conditions routinely and adjust job duties to avoid the hottest part of the day.
-Workers just joining the crew need to be acclimated slowly so have a plan in place that gradually exposes new workers to difficult tasks in high temperatures.
-Promote health and safety at work by rewarding employees who use common sense and protect themselves from work dangers.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at the Lee Law Offices, P.A are dedicated to protecting workers and their families injured at work in North Carolina. If you need to file a claim, or need advice about an injury sustained on the job, contact the firm at 1-800-887-1965 for a free appointment to discuss your case.
More Blog Entries:
Outdoor Jobs Create High Risk of Heat Illness for Winston-Salem Workers, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, June 20, 2011.
Safe Work Environments can Reduce Risk of North Carolina Work Injuries, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, June 17, 2011.
Failure to Train Employees Can Lead to a High Risk of Injury in North Carolina Work Accidents, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, July 1, 2011.