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Preventing workplace injuries by protecting employee from heat

While fall does bring cooler temperatures, it does not mean that employers do not have to take measures to protect workers from heat exposure. Seasonal changes do not eliminate the need for employers to follow safety standards because workplace injuries related to heat exposure can happen during any time of the year. A Pennsylvania employer was recently cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for exposing employees to unnecessary harm.

It is often assumed that only people who work outside are exposed to excessive heat. In reality, those who work indoors are often exposed to excessive heat, perhaps caused by large machinery. In this particular instance, the Pennsylvania manufacturer failed to provide protection for employees who were operating large molding ovens throughout their 12-hour shift.

Heat stress can cause illnesses that can have a direct impact on an individual's ability to work. Those exposed to excessive heat may be required to seek medical attention. Excessive humidity, high air temperatures, contact with hot equipment and other factors can expose workers and increase their risk for heat stress. Those who become ill due to the heat may become dizzy and nauseated, and they may faint. More serious consequences include heat stroke or even death.

When an employer fails to protect the interests of an employee, it can have detrimental consequences. Employees who become ill or suffer from workplace injuries due to dangerous conditions have the right to seek restitution through workers' compensation insurance. When an individual has difficulty understanding his or her rights as an injured employee, it is important to seek the opinion of a knowledgeable legal professional.

Source: safety.blr.com, "Manufacturer cited for indoor heat exposure. Are your employees at risk?", Oct. 7, 2015

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