Anyone who has spent even an hour working in the backyard, a garage or an attic during a New Jersey summer knows exactly how hot it can get. Now imagine if your job requires you to stand in the blazing sun all day holding a sign, nailing down shingles or moving heavy objects. Anyone who works outdoors should be prepared for the extremes of weather, including the heat of spring and summer; especially if the job involves anything that puts you in direct sunlight and/or requires physical exertion. It should also be kept in mind that heavy clothing or safety gear may exacerbate the heat and humidity issues. Fortunately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has an easy to follow, three-point system to help people who work in extremely hot environments avoid heat stroke or heat related illnesses.
OSHA’s Three Steps to Avoid Heat Illnesses: Water. Rest. Shade.
While these recommendations may seem obvious for anyone working in the summer months, or any time of the year while in high heat environments, every year hundreds of laborers are taken to the hospital with heat related illness because they or their employers disregarded the severity of the hazard presented by working in extreme heat.
OSHA recommends the following to avoid heat related illness and emergencies:
- Have a glass of water every 15 minutes to rehydrate yourself, even if you don’t feel you need it
- Take it easy on the first few days of a new job outdoors; let your body adjust to the temperature
- Take your water break in the shade, not in direct sunlight
- Wear light colored clothing so the sun’s rays will be reflected
- Keep an eye out for heat illness symptoms in both yourself and co-workers
While OSHA has no specific regulations regarding working in the heat, employers are expected to provide a safe work environment, no matter the conditions (indoor or outside).
If you have suffered a heat related injury, you may be entitled to worker’s compensation or to make third party claims if deemed appropriate. For more information on worker’s compensation and work place injuries contact the personal injury team at Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari at (973) 635-5400.