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Hot under the collar: Heat-related illnesses at work

Heat stress is one thing industrial workers must deal with when they work with high-heat zones or in hot outdoor conditions during the summer months in Maryland. When employees are exposed to long periods of time in high temperatures, they can be at risk of heat stress or other heat-related illnesses. That means that they could be at a higher risk of heat stroke, heat cramps, heat rashes or heat exhaustion.

In 25 states, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's plans for compliance with the enforcement of heat illness prevention have been adopted, which keeps workers safer by providing shade and having training for what to do if heat illnesses occur in the workplace. If a company doesn't comply with the regulations from OSHA, then they could be fined by OSHA if a worker is injured as a result of heat sickness. OSHA recommends keeping temperatures between 68 and 76 degrees for the safety of all workers.

Some compliance guidelines OSHA recommends include permitting workers to drink water at their liberty; at least a pint of water each hour should be had by each worker according to the guidelines. Additionally, there should be provisions for a work and rest regiment that reduces and limits exposure to high temperatures.

A heat stress program that trains employees on how to recognize heat stress and illnesses, provides an acclimation program to new or returning employees and has specific procedures for heat-related emergencies should be adopted. Additionally, provisions to provide care to workers with heat illness symptoms and a screening program to identify heat-related health conditions needs to be in place. If you have questions about your workplace's programs after being injured in the heat, it's important to discuss your case with OSHA and your legal team.

Source: FindLaw, "Heat Stress: OSHA Regulations" Nov. 18, 2014

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