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Hot working conditions present special risks to workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have any formal regulations that address heat stress at Pennsylvania workplaces, but it has been attempting to raise awareness regarding the dangers of environments that may be too hot for workers. An infosheet published jointly by OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health makes recommendations to help prevent work injuries or illnesses due to heat.

Employers are encouraged by the infosheet to train workers to recognize symptoms of heat stress in themselves and their coworkers, and to report symptoms immediately when they see them. Training should also be provided regarding the types of hazards that commonly lead to heat illness and how those hazards can be remedied. In hot conditions, workers should drink water before they are thirsty. If they are working in moderately hot environments, performing moderate activity, workers should drink 8 ounces of water three or four times each hour.

In hot working conditions, workers may be susceptible to heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat syncope, heat stroke, heat rashes or even death. Because workers might get dizzy or suffer a lessened ability to reason due to heat, it can generally increase their risk of injury to work in hot environments. The occupations at which the risk of heat stress is highest include bakery workers, construction workers, firefighters, farmers, factory workers and workers in boiler rooms. OSHA received reports of 24 heat stress deaths among workers on the job in 2017.

A worker who becomes ill due to hot working conditions may be entitled to obtain workers' compensation benefits. An attorney can often assist with the preparation and timely filing of the required claim documentation.

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