In the first part of our series on construction work-related illnesses, we focussed on the prevalence of respiratory disorders among construction workers, reasons why these disorders are being contracted, and how workers can be protected. While illnesses like asbestosis and silicosis are serious, they are not the only conditions that construction companies should be concerned about.
Construction companies should proceed with caution during the summer months as high temperatures and long, arduous hours can lead to heat-related illness. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes in 2014.
In the second part of our guide to work-related illnesses, our team of OSHA attorneys will provide information on the variations of heat illness, the symptoms of those illnesses, and what companies can do to protect their employees.
Types of Heat Illnesses
Heat-related illnesses fall into two conditions, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Both conditions are serious with heat stroke being potentially life-threatening. Roofing workers and those performing heavy work tasks are particularly at risk for these conditions. Symptoms for heat exhaustion and heat stroke include:
Heat Exhaustion: Dizziness, headaches, nausea, and rapid heartbeat.
Heat Stroke: Red, hot, and dry skin; confusion, convulsions, and fainting.
If you or a co-worker are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
What Companies Can Do to Protect Employees
Despite hot temperatures in certain parts of the country, heat-related illnesses are preventable. According to OSHA, companies can take the following measures to protect employees:
- Provide workers with shaded water stations
- Allow workers to take frequent breaks.
- Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they build a tolerance for working in the hot conditions.
- Keep a close eye on workers during hot conditions.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.