Concerns about worker health in extreme heat sparks OSHA changes

Workers face serious health threats when they are confronted by extreme heat on the job, whether  indoors or outdoors. The issue is still being debated and workers who could be harmed and face extensive ramifications must be prepared to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Extreme heat a focus for worker safety

New rules to protect workers from extreme heat could soon be proposed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. If it goes into effect, employers would be obligated to have protections in place for vulnerable workers.

Despite these attempts, there are protests from employers who are against these regulations that would significantly alter how they conduct business. Rising heat has been a challenge in recent years, and many people have suffered negative health effects because of it.

Anecdotal evidence from workers who work in oppressively hot environments indicates how dangerous it is. Those who are overcome by the heat can have organ damage in addition to the obvious physical problems that can occur. Roofers say they have felt lightheaded, experienced chills and become disoriented. The same is true for people who clean cabins on airplanes and, of course, those who are in commercial kitchens.

If the OSHA proposal moves forward, heat index would be a primary factor in what employers’ responsibilities. On one threshold, workers would need to be offered drinks, breaks and a less arduous workload; on the next threshold, they would need to be given rest breaks and be watched for indicators of heat-related illness.

OSHA has expanded its oversight on heat exposure at various workplaces with employers being cited for violating the rules where employees must be protected from hazards. Still, many states are fighting back against the potential new rules and how they could hinder employer operations.

Heat-related illness could warrant workers’ compensation benefits

As the OSHA proposal and possible changes are debated, workers need to know that workers’ compensation benefits can be provided for issues beyond broken bones, head injuries, back injuries, lost limbs and other physical damage. Those who are harmed by heat-related illness could file a claim. Just as any other workers’ compensation claim, there could be disputes about its severity, the amount the worker should receive and how long they will be off the job. Knowing how to pursue a claim is vital from the outset