Many Missouri workers face danger from heat stress in the summer months. There is no formal regulation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that refers to heat stress, but the agency has been conducting an ongoing awareness campaign that aims to reduce the threat of workplace injuries and illnesses caused by hot temperatures. Even in states where regulations exist about temperature control for outdoor workers, those are some of the most frequently violated workplace safety rules.
Nevertheless, heat can have a significant impact on health. For example, heat can change the way workers’ bodies react to substances. There are a number of animal studies that indicate that chemical exposure can become toxic or dangerous far more quickly in hot weather. In addition, heat directly causes multiple types of illnesses and injuries, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dizziness and cramps. Sometimes these conditions can be so severe that heat exposure leads to death. In fact, in 2017, 24 workers died on the job due to heat stress according to OSHA, although the number could be higher.
The effects of excessive heat can be felt even when it may seem that there is another cause of an accident on the job. For example, heat can increase the likelihood of sweating palms or fogged-up safety goggles prior to a fall or slip. Metal and water can become hot enough through simple sun exposure that workers can be burned by steam or contact with the hot surface. Heat can also inhibit decision-making, as cognitive and reasoning ability tend to decline in excessively hot weather.
When workers are injured on the job due to excessive heat, they can face significant consequences as a result. An attorney can often help them file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.