South Carolina summers can be very hot, especially when its residents are outside working under the hot sun. The state’s employers, therefore, may want to consider measures to protect their workers from heat-related health problems. More than 30 workers died nationwide from heat-related problems in 2012, according to the federal agency that monitors workplace safety.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration does not have specific regulations in place to safeguard employees working outside on hot days but said this area falls under general provisions required of all employers, meaning they must provide hazard-free workplaces for their employees. Only three states have formal policies in place to protect outside summer workers; South Carolina is not one of them. OSHA has a smartphone app that employers can use to evaluate weather and heat-stress conditions at outdoor job sites.
Workers who are most prone to occupational diseases caused by working in high temperatures are those who are involved in heavy physical labor such as construction sites or those who have not worked in excessive heat conditions before. To safeguard workers on hot days, OSHA says employers should provide frequent rest breaks in the shade, have plenty of drinking water available and allow workers not used to high temperatures to gradually acclimatize to working outdoors.
Heat-related illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation the same way that injuries caused by workplace accidents are. Workers who experience heat problems should seek immediate medical attention, report it to their supervisor and consider filing a workers’ compensation claim. They may also wish to talk with a workers’ compensation attorney who may be able to help them through any rough spots in the claim process.