Although workplace incidents related to heat can occur at any time during the year, workers’ compensation cases associated with heat tend to increase during the summer. If you suffered heatstroke or another heat-related illness or injury while you were working, our Tampa workers comp lawyers are ready to help you get the benefits you deserve.
Now, let’s delve into the topic of heat-related illnesses and injuries.
What Are Heat-Related Illnesses and Injuries?
Heat can give rise to various illnesses and injuries, ranging from mild sunburns to severe conditions like heatstroke or dehydration. Here are the most frequently encountered heat-related problems.
Heatstroke occurs when an individual’s body temperature rises to dangerous levels, often due to physical exertion or prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Heatstroke represents the most severe form of heat-related injury and requires immediate medical intervention. It can cause harm to vital organs such as the heart, brain, muscles, and kidneys.
Dehydration transpires when the body loses or utilizes more water than it takes in, leading to an insufficient amount of fluids for the body to carry out its regular functions. While mild to moderate dehydration can be managed by consuming water or sports drinks, severe dehydration demands immediate medical attention.
Heat exhaustion is a condition characterized by symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat and excessive sweating. It often occurs due to intense physical activity in hot and humid environments. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke.
Heat cramps are involuntary muscle spasms that can cause pain and occur during vigorous exercise in hot settings. Although not inherently dangerous, heat cramps can serve as a warning sign for potential heat exhaustion, dehydration, or heatstroke.
Sunburn refers to the painful redness of the skin that occurs after prolonged exposure to the sun. Severe sunburns may exhibit additional symptoms such as:
- Formation of fluid-filled blisters that may rupture
It is advisable to consult a doctor for severe sunburns. Seek immediate medical attention if your sunburn is accompanied by fainting, confusion, dehydration, or a fever exceeding 103°F.
Heat rash develops when sweat ducts become blocked, trapping perspiration under the skin. It can manifest as intensely itchy or prickly sensations, and the symptoms range from superficial blisters to deep red lumps.
While heat rash typically resolves on its own, it is recommended to consult a doctor if the rash worsens or shows signs of infection, such as:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pus drainage
- Increased swelling
What Workers Are Most At Risk of Heatstroke?
The following are some examples of workers who are at higher risk for heatstroke and other heat-related conditions.
Those who work outdoors, such as construction workers, agricultural workers, landscapers, and road crews, are exposed to direct sunlight and high temperatures for extended periods, making them vulnerable to heat-related illnesses.
Employees working in industries that involve high heat sources, such as foundries, steel mills, and factories, face an increased risk of heat-related conditions due to the hot working environments and the potential lack of proper ventilation.
Firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency responders often work in physically demanding and high-heat situations, putting them at risk of heatstroke and other heat-related issues.
Athletes and Sports Professionals
Athletes participating in outdoor sports or training sessions, especially during the summer months, are prone to heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Workers in Confined Spaces
Individuals working in confined or enclosed spaces, such as mines, tunnels, and boiler rooms, may encounter elevated temperatures and reduced air circulation, increasing the likelihood of heat-related problems.
Workers With PPE Requirements
Some job roles, such as those in the healthcare sector or hazardous material handling, may necessitate wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) that can impede heat dissipation, potentially contributing to heat-related risks.
It’s important to note that anyone working in hot environments or engaging in strenuous physical activity under high temperatures can be at risk of heatstroke and other heat-related conditions. Our Tampa workers compensation lawyers will assist you with your claim for benefits.
What Safety Measures Can Employers and Workers Take?
According to OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention campaign, thousands of workers become sick every year while working in hot or humid conditions. Both employers and workers should take proactive measures to prevent heat-related health issues.
Employers should provide appropriate training, breaks, and access to hydration. Where possible, it’s best for companies to schedule physically demanding tasks for cooler parts of the day and adjust workloads and the pace of work to accommodate for high temperatures.
Workers should take the following steps to avoid heatstroke, dehydration, and other heat-related health issues.
Stay Hydrated and Take Regular Breaks
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after work. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine, sugary drinks, or alcohol, as they can contribute to dehydration. Aim to drink water at regular intervals, even if you do not feel thirsty.
Take frequent rest breaks in shaded or cool areas. Use these breaks to rehydrate and allow your body to recover from heat stress.
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing that provides adequate ventilation. Use sunscreen with a high SPF and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect against sunburn and excessive sun exposure.
Know the Signs and Look Out for Each Other
Be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, such as dizziness, fatigue, excessive sweating, nausea, or confusion. If you experience any of these symptoms, notify your supervisor and seek medical attention if necessary.
Practice a buddy system or peer monitoring to keep an eye on co-workers and recognize early signs of heat-related distress.
Can I Get Workers’ Compensation for Heatstroke?
If you suffered heatstroke or another heat-related illness or injury while you were working, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Most employers in Florida with at least four or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Some of the requirements for workers’ compensation in Florida include the following:
- You must be acting within the scope of your employment at the time.
- You cannot be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the injury.
- You must report your injuries to your employer within 30 days.
- You must submit to a drug test if requested by your employer.
- You can only be treated by an approved workers’ comp doctor.
- You must comply with your doctor’s treatment regimen.
If you meet these basic criteria, there’s a good chance your Tampa workers comp attorney will get you the benefits you deserve.
Call Our Tampa Workers Comp Lawyers Today
Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Tampa have handled hundreds of cases. If you suffered heatstroke or another heat-related illness or injury while you were working, contact us today for a free initial consultation. Our team at WorkInjuryRights.Com™ can deliver the experienced representation you need.