The summers in California being what they are, it’s important for outdoor workers to keep from suffering a heat-related illness like heat exhaustion, heat rash, heat cramps or even heat stroke. First off, workers should know how to recognize these conditions.
Arising from the loss of water and salt, heat exhaustion is connected to excessive sweating, muscle cramps, dizziness and confusion. It can be accompanied by cramps, usually in the abdomen, legs and arms, and by rashes, which appear as red clusters of pimples or blisters on the neck, around upper chest or in the elbow creases. Heat stroke develops when the body can no longer regulate its temperature. Symptoms include:
• Lack of sweating
• A rapid pulse
• Slurred speech
Preventing heat-related illness is largely a matter of developing certain habits. Workers should drink plenty of water while avoiding dehydrating liquids like tea, coffee and alcohol. They should eat small meals high in fiber but not high in protein. They will want to take frequent breaks, preferably in a shady or air-conditioned spot, and not rush through a job.
They should wear sunscreen. Their clothing should be light-colored so as to absorb less heat, and if it’s lightweight and loose-fitting, all the better. A damp rag around the neck can be helpful.
Workers’ compensation law allows the payment of benefits to employees who suffer an occupational injury or illness. Technically, you would not have to prove that you were free of blame, but your employer may bring this up as a way to deny payment. The employer may also deny payment by saying that you failed to report your illness in time. For this and other reasons, you may want a lawyer to help you file your workers’ comp claim.