Heat-related illness and how workers can avoid it

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Young man and heat stroke.

Heat-related illness and how workers can avoid it

Construction workers and anyone else in California who works outdoors should know about the danger of heat-related illness. Heat stroke, where the body loses its ability to control body temperature, is the most serious of these illnesses, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, but other conditions include heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash.

Know the symptoms of heat-related illness

Workers will know that they are suffering heat exhaustion if they feel weak and dizzy, sweat excessively and have clammy skin. Heat cramps are characterized by muscle pain and spasms in the abdomen or extremities. Heat rash will lead to clusters of red blisters or pimples, normally around the neck, upper chest and groin area. As for heat stroke, symptoms include:

• Dry, red skin
• Chills
• Confusion
• A strong, rapid pulse

Staying safe when it’s hot outside

Drinking plenty of water is the first step in preventing heat-related illness. Workers should drink around 16 ounces beforehand, followed by five to seven ounces every 15 minutes. On the other hand, they should avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated soft drinks. Meals should be small and not so high in protein.

Next, their clothing should be lightweight and loose-fitting. They should wear a hat and apply sunscreen. Rather than rushing through a job, they should pace themselves and take frequent breaks.

Injured workers can seek compensation

If you suffered from a heat-related illness on the job, you may pursue a workers’ compensation case and be reimbursed for the cost of medical treatments, prescriptions and more, not to mention a portion of your lost wages. Eligibility for benefits does not depend on who was at fault in a given incident, but the employer may still deny your claim. Whatever the situation looks like for you, a lawyer may greatly help with the filing process.

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