Heat-Related Illnesses in the Workplace
It’s August, and that means we are heading into the dog days of summer in New Jersey. There’s no escaping the heat, not even at work. Regardless of where you work, inside or outside, employers should be making every effort to ensure that their employees’ working conditions are as safe as possible.
First and foremost, you should know that when an employee suffers from a heat-related illness in the workplace, that employee can file a workers’ compensation benefits claim.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has heat safety guidelines in place for employers during the sizzling summer months. These guidelines are for both indoor and outdoor workplaces, including factories, foundries, bakeries, chemical plants, construction sites, oil and gas operations, and landscaping.
Heat as a Workplace Hazard
Yes, everyone enjoys the heat, but not even the attorneys in our office enjoy a hot, humid, and sticky workplace. When the air temperature is warmer than your body’s temperature, cooling down becomes more difficult. If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it.
When the heat starts building up in your body, your heart rate will increase. As the heat builds and builds, you will lose focus of your tasks and concentration will be difficult to keep. If your body temperature keeps rising, fainting or even death could occur. Aside from the worst-case scenario, exposure to extreme heat for an extended period or elevated body temperatures can lead to rashes, cramps, exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Factors that could lead to heat-related illnesses occurring in the workplace are elevated outdoor temperatures, humidity, direct exposure to sunlight, limited air movement, non-breathable clothing, and physical exertion.
Employers should also provide workers with a safe and possibly cool environment to operate in. Employers who don’t provide a reasonably safe environment for their workers will be held liable if one of their employees suffers from a heat-related illness.
Before it gets that far, there are some heat safety precautions to keep in mind. Some of the most important ways to keep cool and reduce heat exposure in the workplace are air conditioning, staying hydrated, and taking multiple breaks.
Receiving Workers’ Compensation
If you are the victim of a heat-related illness that occurred on the job, know that you are not responsible. Your employer was the negligent party; therefore, you can file a workers’ compensation claim to recoup any compensation this heat-related illness will cost you.
To file for workers’ compensation in New Jersey, you should follow this sequence:
- See a doctor your employer recommends and receive proper medical care
- Tell your doctor about the heat-related illness and follow their instructions
- Report your heat-related illness to your employer as soon as possible (You have 90 days from the day of incident) and make sure it is in writing
- Check on your claim to ensure that it was filed (your employer has 21 days to file it)
- If your employer fails to submit a claim or your claim is denied, get legal help as soon as possible
The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone is that legal help. We are willing to fight for your working rights and make sure you are properly compensated for the heat-related illness caused by your employer.
Our offices are only one call or click away. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.