Do Employers Have to Protect Employees From Excessive Heat?

workers-compensation

Photo of construction workers outside in the heat

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers are responsible for providing workplaces that are safe from excessive heat.

Here in Texas, employees whose job requires working outside in the heat and humidity need to make sure that their employer is doing everything it can to reduce prolonged exposure to extreme heat.

A worker can sustain a heat illness if they have not been given water or shaded areas for cooling off. OSHA says, “Heat illness can be deadly. Every year, thousands of workers become sick from exposure to heat, and some even die.” Fortunately, this illness is preventable.

There are varying symptoms of a heat illness:

  • Heat rash
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke

How Can Employers Prevent Heat Illness?

As stated before, it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that their employees are safe from the dangers of excessive heat. OSHA recommends the following for employers:

  • Provide water for the workers. Workers’ should drink water every 15 minutes, even if they are not thirsty.
  • Provide workers with shade and rest.
  • Allow breaks that are more frequent for new workers or workers who have not been working for more than a week. Workers need a few days to acclimatize to the heat so that their bodies can build a tolerance to it.
  • Modify schedules so that work is performed during cooler parts of the day.
  • Plan for emergencies.
  • Train employees to become aware of heat-related illnesses.
  • Monitor all employees who are working outside for any signs of a heat illness.

Heat illness is avoidable. If an employer does not make the work environment reasonably safe, they could be liable for a workers’ death or injury that was brought on by a heat illness.

Did You Know? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. 

The Law Offices of Aaron Allison – Austin Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Source: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html



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