Those who work in construction, landscaping, manufacturing, bakeries, agriculture, and mail delivery are at serious risk of heat exhaustion during the summer months.
We don’t have to tell you — Missouri summers are long and hot. While typically the temperature can range between 80 and 90 degrees, we have all experienced those never-ending hot days that reach more than 100 degrees. From a young age, Missourians are taught the dangers of heatstroke and how to pay attention to heat exhaustion signs.
If an individual has prolonged exposure to the heat or exerts themselves physically in high temperatures, it can cause the body’s temperature to rise. For those who work in construction, landscaping, manufacturing, bakeries, agriculture, and mail delivery — you could be at serious risk.
The Dangers of Heatstroke
Thousands across the United States become ill from occupational heat exposure each year, which can be preventable. Heat-related illnesses happen when the body cannot cool down quickly in warm environments or during physical activity. The body signals individuals of this change by showing symptoms including thirst, rashes, cramps, irritability, confusion, or dizziness.
But when the internal body temperature reaches 104, it is dangerous and potentially fatal. The onset of heatstroke is mental dysfunction, disorientation, slurred speech, or losing consciousness.
If It Happens To You
It takes time for the body to build a tolerance to heat, and new employees or those who have recently switched roles may be more susceptible to the dangers of heat illness. It can be a scary experience and can cause lasting effects up to four months after the incident or even permanently.
Suppose you suffer from heat illness or stroke while on the job, you can take action. While companies may try to link the incident to a pre-existing condition or deny liability, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help protect your legal rights. The Law Office of James Hoffman has served residents in St. Louis and throughout Missouri for more than 30 years, helping to bring relief and justice to those who suffered injuries in the workplace.
5 Tips to Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses in the Workplace This Summer
Wear Light-Colored and Loose-Fitting Clothing
With the warmer weather comes the need to wear lighter and airier clothing to stay cool. However, did you know that the color of your clothing can also make a difference? Light-colored clothing reflects heat away from your body, while dark-colored clothing absorbs it. So, if you want to stay cooler this summer, ditch the black pants and go for something white or light-colored instead.
As for fit, loose-fitting clothing allows air to circulate around your body and helps you stay cooler than if you were wearing something tight. So, if possible, make sure your summer wardrobe consists of plenty of light-colored, loose-fitting clothes to keep you cool and comfortable all season long.
Drink Lots of Water
This one might seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating: drink lots of water! When working in a hot environment, your body sweats to cool itself down. This sweating process causes you to lose fluids and can lead to dehydration if you’re not careful. To prevent this, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Take Breaks in a Cool Area
As the temperature rises, so does the risk of heat-related illness. To help combat this, make sure you’re taking regular breaks in a cool area, such as an air-conditioned room or under a shady tree. These breaks will give your body a chance to cool down and prevent overheating.
Acclimatize Gradually to Hot Weather Conditions
If you’re not used to working in hot weather, your body will need time to adjust or acclimatize. This process can take up to two weeks, so it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase your exposure to the heat.
Monitor Yourself for Signs of Heat-Related Illness
Even if you’re taking all the necessary precautions, it’s still important to monitor yourself for signs of heat-related illness. These can include headaches, nausea, dizziness, and muscle cramps. If you start to experience any of these symptoms, take a break in a cool area and drink lots of fluids. And if your symptoms get worse or don’t improve, seek medical attention immediately.
Seeking Workers Compensation for Heat Exhaustion
When heat stroke occurs, individuals are often rushed to the hospital or health organization for medical assistance. A doctor will confirm this diagnosis by running a series of tests to rule out other potential causes and diagnose any damages to the body or organs. These medical tests may include x-rays, blood and urine analysis, and muscle function.
This is important for your overall health and safety. It is also valuable information and evidence when building a claim for workers’ compensation. Our St. Louis Workers Compensation Attorneys can help you prove the illness or injuries suffered directly from heat exhaustion and your working conditions. If proven, you can get workers’ compensation benefits to assist with medical expenses and wage losses while recovering.
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