Workers may be able to file a workers’ comp claim to recover compensation if they suffer from heat stress while on the job. Proving fault or negligence is not required for a workers’ compensation claim to be successful. It only needs to be proved that the employee suffered heat-related injuries while performing work duties. If another party other than the worker’s employer contributed to the victim’s injuries, additional compensation may be available.
Maintaining a Safe Workplace
Current labor laws help protect workers from injuries resulting from prolonged exposure to heat. Employers are required to maintain a consistently safe workplace, and this includes preventing heat-related injuries.
Employees who endure any heat-related injuries or illnesses may be able to file a workers’ comp claim to recover monetary compensation for any resulting medical bills, lost wages, and some other related damages.
Types of Heat-Related Injuries That May Affect Employees
Many workers, including those in the construction industry and others who spend a lot of time outdoors, may be vulnerable to certain types of heat-related injuries. These injuries could include:
When workers are exposed to heat for a long period, they will begin to dehydrate and lose salt due to increased sweating. Eventually, the worker may become weak or wind up unconscious. Some symptoms of heat exhaustion include rapid breathing, headache, elevated body temperature, a pulse that’s fast or weak, muscle cramps, and fatigue, among others.
If a person’s body temperature exceeds 104 degrees in a short period of time, heatstroke may occur. This illness can cause symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, dry skin, fatigue, increased heart rate, and nausea, potentially leading to a seizure or even rendering the person comatose. Eventually, if left untreated, heatstroke may also cause death.
Excessive sweating can also cause skin irritation known as heat rash. Heat rash takes the form of small blisters or clusters of red spots and may develop on the neck, upper chest, under the breasts, in elbow creases, or in the groin area.
Sometimes people may experience heat cramps, which entail muscle pain or spasms that are often severe.
If a worker sustains any of these injuries on the job, it may be possible to file a claim against the employer to recover compensation.
How Employees and Employers Can Prevent Heat-Related Workplace Injuries
There are several steps that employees and employers can take to prevent workplace injuries resulting from exposure to heat.
Employers should provide employees with a sufficient amount of clean drinking water, give workers breaks when needed, provide workers with shaded areas in which they can take their breaks, and provide ample training to workers to monitor for symptoms of heat-related injuries. Additionally, employers should inform employees about the steps to take if they notice alarming symptoms, including notifying supervisors.
Employees, on the other hand, can also contribute to a safer workplace in several ways. For instance, workers can avoid heat stroke and other illnesses by drinking plenty of water or drinks with electrolytes that promote hydration. They can also wear sunscreen, along with wide-brimmed hats, breathable clothing, and protective gear such as eyewear that protects against UVB and UVA rays. Workers can take breaks in shaded areas, adjust their routines to suit the climate, and find out more about symptoms to watch for and address.
If employees experience any dehydration or symptoms of a heat-related illness, they should seek immediate medical attention and notify employers right away.
Recoverable Damages in Workers’ Comp Claims
Workers may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim after suffering heat stress injuries on the job. The types of compensation that workers may be able to recover are different from the recoverable damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Some of the damages that workers may be able to recover by filing a workers’ compensation claim include medical expenses, lost wages due to time taken off from work to recover, and ongoing treatment for severe heat-related injuries. If the person becomes permanently disabled because of heat-related injuries, disability benefits may also be available. Noneconomic damages like pain and suffering are not recoverable through the workers’ compensation system. However, if a worker suffers heat stress injuries because of the negligence of someone other than his or her employer, the victim may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim.
The Importance of a Safe Workplace
Both employers and employers should play their part in making the workplace consistently safe for everyone present. This applies to preventing heat-related injuries along with many other types of risks that workers may otherwise face on the job.