The summer months in Indiana see the state flower blooming all over highways, overpasses, and even the surface streets you take during the morning commute — that is, if the state flower was the orange traffic cone.
Construction projects are ubiquitous when the weather turns sunny. This is partially because construction materials like tar melt faster in the heat and are sometimes easier to work with than during colder months.
However, as anyone who’s ever worked at summer camp can tell you, being outside all day, especially in the sun, can be exhausting enough on its own. Add the fact that you’re manning heavy construction equipment, and things can quickly turn from uncomfortable to dangerous.
During these hot, humid days in Indiana, your employer is responsible for keeping you healthy and may owe you workers’ compensation if you develop a heat-related illness.
Heat Sicknesses, Causes, and Prevention Tips
There are three major types of heat illness: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Though cramps can be annoying and lead to the other more severe forms of heat sickness, they constitute a warning sign rather than a workplace injury.
However, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are not to be taken lightly, and if you’ve experienced either, you know it can be debilitating, though it is also easily preventable.
Caused by the body’s inability to replace lost fluids, heat exhaustion can result in nausea, clammy skin, sudden fatigue, diarrhea, and dizziness. Workers who feel any or many of these symptoms should seek a cool place in the shade, sip water, and trying to lower their body temperature by placing cold rags on their neck and under their arms.
This is the most severe form of heat sickness, which occurs when a person’s body temperature becomes too high to function normally. Their skin is usually dry and cracked, as they have stopped sweating, and their skin will be red and flushed.
This condition is severely dangerous; if you or someone you work with appears to have symptoms of heat stroke, call 911 immediately while moving them to a cool place, preferably a cold bath or another place to reduce their body temperature.
The steps to prevent heat sickness are simple, though sometimes hard to implement in certain working conditions.
- Drink water continuously. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends supplying employees who are working outside with at least a quart of water per hour (2 gallons per 8-hour workday). These guidelines are in place for a reason; stay hydrated!
- Take regular shade breaks. Though not regulated federally or by most states, giving outdoor employees time off to rest in a cooler area (whether shade or a climate-controlled facility) reduces their risk of overheating and developing the symptoms of heat sickness. States like California designate 5 minutes every hour for such breaks.
- Be aware of symptoms and treatments. Looking out for your fellow workers is a major part of preventing heat sickness from developing in the first place. Often, workers overestimate their abilities or stamina, but the word of their peers may be enough to convince them to take a break and cool down.
When Heat Sickness Results In Workers’ Compensation
As with any other workplace injury or illness, when heat stroke and heat exhaustion are caused by unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, you may be able to recover medical costs through workers’ compensation.
Employers and their insurance agents often try to argue your heat exhaustion was the result of a pre-existing condition and therefore not eligible for workers’ compensation. Even then, if your pre-existing condition was aggravated unnecessarily by your employer’s negligence, you can still receive at least a little help from a workers’ compensation claim.
Help Defending a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Some claims are hard to argue when you’re up against an experienced insurance agent who knows the intimidation methods and policies that will shut down your claim before you’re compensated for your injuries. That’s why working with lawyers may help you get the money you deserve.
Hensley Legal Group’s workers’ compensation attorneys are ready to help Hoosiers demand financial aid for medical bills that were caused by their employers’ negligence. Call us or contact us online today to start a free conversation about your claim.