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3 ways employers can mitigate heat-related illnesses and deaths

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2023 | Personal Injury |

There are workers whose jobs require laboring in extreme conditions. With this year’s summer heat reaching suffocating levels, hot and humid temperatures can lead to workplace illnesses and deaths.

When the heat index came as high as 105 degrees, Connecticut had to activate its extreme hot weather protocol that coordinates statewide relief by opening cooling centers.

But for workers in constantly confined environments, like kitchens and warehouses, or toiling away outdoors under direct exposure to the sun’s scorching heat, employers must also do their part in addressing workplace safety.

How to combat heat at work

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommend that acclimatization is an effective way to tackle the life-threatening effects of intense heat.

Developing a culture of acclimatization means gradually building heat tolerance through longer durations of increased workload in hot settings. This process especially applies to newly hired workers still trying to adjust to a warmer workplace climate. By doing so, workers’ bodies cool more quickly due to improved sweating capacity.

Aside from maintaining acclimatized measures – like establishing a work schedule with properly distributed breaks, and monitoring food or fluid intake – CDC and OSHA also advise employers to uphold their duty of care by:

  • Designing the workplace for comfortable air passage and effective heat-absorbing mechanisms
  • Reducing physically demanding tasks by incorporating assistive tools or equipment
  • Supervising training on how to correctly administer first aid and urgently report any signs or symptoms

While the CDC and the OSHA encourage employers to observe these regulations, standardized policies are yet to evolve. There are still no federal benchmarks recognizing heat as an imminent danger that can cost workers’ lives.

When workers can’t take the heat

On top of drastic weather shifts, workers tend to engage in grueling activities to show dedication. But not all workers can cope with harsh environments. In the end, too much heat can kill. When tragedy happens, an ill or hurt worker must speak with their counsel about their legal options and how to seek fair compensation.