Heat and humidity are part of life in South Carolina. Unfortunately, this means that outdoor workers in the state have a heightened risk for heat stroke, a serious and potentially fatal condition. Heat strokes can strike workers even in weather that only reaches the high 80s. Late spring and early summer heat waves present the greatest risks because people might not be acclimated to higher temperatures or mindful of the dangers. Fortunately, employers and supervisors have many strategies to call upon to prevent heat strokes or catch them early.
Supervisors often require training so that they can spot heat stroke. Dangerous fevers of 106 to 108 degrees can result from heat stroke, and victims will be disoriented and unable to sweat. People with diabetes or heart disease have a greater vulnerability to the heat. Ideally, a workplace will assign an employee to monitor heat threats and remind co-workers to protect themselves from high temperatures.
People working under hot conditions also need frequent breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas. Supervisors should grant workers more breaks and modify work schedules to avoid the hottest time of the day when possible. Everyone will also need plenty of water at all times.
A person hit by a heat stroke while on the job will likely require emergency medical assistance. The cost of treatment and lost wages could be recoverable through workers’ compensation insurance. If an employer discourages a worker from using benefits, then legal representation may be warranted. An attorney could prepare claim paperwork and take action to protect the worker from retaliation for accessing coverage.