Those who work outside are at risk for heat-related illnesses, say workers compensation lawyers in Jacksonville. Most any workplace bears some risks. But for those whose daily work takes them outside into the scorching Florida sun, the risks can be particularly high, say workers compensation lawyers with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell. The 2013 summer has been particularly brutal, with multiple regions nationwide hitting record high temperatures. Here in Florida, soaring temperatures are a given, particularly in August. So, for road workers, farm workers, landscapers, sports coaches and others who work outdoors, that means repeated exposure to some pretty harsh elements over extended periods of time. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports thousands of workers in the United States get sick from exposure to heat on the job each year. In 2012, heat illness claimed the lives of 30 workers. You see, the human body is designed to cool itself by sweating. But during times of particularly hot weather, and especially in areas of high humidity, sweating just isn’t enough to effectively cool the body. As a result, your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels, developing a heat illness. Heat-related illnesses can include:
- Heatstroke, a potentially life-threatening illness in which body temperature can rise above 106 degrees in minutes, marked by dry skin, rapid, strong pulse and dizziness;
- Heat exhaustion, an illness that can precede heatstroke and involve heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a fast, weak pulse;
- Heat cramps, muscle pains or spasms that can happen during heavy physical exertion;
- Heat rash, skin irritation caused by excessive sweating.
At highest risk are workers who are older, overweight or sick. To help avoid heat illness, it’s critical that workers hydrate with water every 15 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty; cover up with light clothes and a hat; and rest regularly in cool shaded areas. Know your work area, including the location of the nearest water sources and shady spots. Also, know the signs of oncoming heat illness and watch out for your co-workers. If an emergency arises, find cover and water immediately, and get medical attention. Know that if you are injured or sickened on the job, it’s important that you report the incident to your employer as soon as possible. Law requires timely notification to all appropriate persons within 30 days of the incident or your workers compensation claim will be legally denied. Upon learning of your heat illness or injury, your employer has seven days to notify your company’s work-comp insurance carrier. If your employer fails to report your claim, your next step should be contacting an experienced workers compensation lawyer. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell has helped many injured or ill workers and their families secure fair compensation, including recovery of payments for medical treatment and prescribed medications, and payment of money and indemnity benefits for reparation of work-related disability. The Jacksonville-based firm has offices located throughout Northeast Florida and in Orlando, serving clients throughout Florida and South Georgia. Contact us at 904-251-1111 to schedule a consultation with a workers compensation attorney at the office nearest you.