Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Due to Excessive Heat

The workers’ comp attorneys at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman work to protect the safety of Delaware employees. We serve clients just like you out of our Seaford, Newark, and Wilmington offices.

As the summer temperatures start to exceed 90 degrees on a regular basis, Delaware workers need pay special attention to heat stroke. The dangers of excessive heat are especially high for those in construction, landscaping,  or agriculture – basically anyone who works in the sun or heat.

What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke is when the body is unable to cool itself due to heat exposure. Some of the signs of heatstroke, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Body temperate above normal. A temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) is a strong sign of heat stroke.
  • Altered behavior. Workers with heat stroke may be agitated, confused, have slurred speech, irritable, and suffer from delirium.
  • Vomiting and nausea. Workers may feel sick to their stomach.
  • Flushed skin. The skin may turn red as the temperature of the body rises.
  • A racing heart rate. The worker’s pulse rate will likely increase as the heart tries to cool the body.
  • Other symptoms include headaches, sweating, rapid breathing, seizures, and coma.

Hight body temperatures can cause brain damage, damage to vital organs, and death.

What are the risk factors for heat stroke

According to the Mayo Clinic, the following factors can increase the odds of developing heatstroke:

  • Older workers are more susceptible because after 65, the central nervous system starts to deteriorate. Older workers may have more difficulty staying hydrated.
  • Workers should take more rest breaks or get help from other workers when it’s too hot.
  • Sudden exposure to heat. Heatstroke is more likely during an early-summer heat wave or when workers travel from colder climates to hot climates.
  • Some medications make it harder for a person to stay hydrated or respond to hot weather. Medications that can affect workers in hot weather include beta blockers, diuretics, antidepressants, and vasoconstrictors.

Workers who are obese or in bad health are also more susceptible to heat stroke.

What are the other workplace dangers for workers who do their jobs in hot summer months?

Summer heat can cause other physical injuries, including dehydration, sunburn, or skin cancer.

Excessive heat can even cause workers to slip and fall from losing their balance and focus due to the heat, or cause a worker to drop a tool or piece of equipment on another person.

Preventive measures for heat stroke

Some of the steps workers should take to reduce the risk of heatstroke, according to the Mayo Clinic are:

  • Get out of the sun when it’s especially hot
  • Stay hydrated
  • Take the time to get acclimated to extreme heat
  • Understand what medications may make you vulnerable to heat and sun
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 15 or more
  • Wear light, loose fitting clothing

Workers should understand if they are at increased risk, and communicate that risk with their employer.

Employees who suffer heat stroke or any injuries due to summer workplace conditions have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim if an accident or illness occurs. They may also have the right to file an occupational illness claim.

Heat strokes can be deadly – leading to cardiac arrest, brain damage, or other injuries and conditions. At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers work with physicians to confirm your medical condition and expenses. We fight to ensure you’re not forced back to work before you’re ready. To file a Delaware workers’ compensation case, call us at 302.888.2900 or use our contact form. to arrange an appointment with one of our attorneys. We represent clients throughout Delaware. Our offices are in Wilmington, Newark and Seaford.