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What to know about heat dangers and your workplace

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

Because exposure to high levels of heat is dangerous, people often try to stay indoors during periods of hot weather to avoid sunburns and heat exhaustion. However, sometimes avoiding a hot environment is not possible. Some New Jersey residents have to contend with heat at their places of work.

Even if a worker manages to receive medical attention after suffering a health problem involving heat, it may be a while before the afflicted person can return to work. Not all workers are equally likely to suffer injury due to heat, though. It depends on where a person works.

Heat in outdoor spaces

Because outdoor workers do their tasks exposed to outside elements, heat will be a concern during the hot summer months. As explained by the CDC, heat is capable of producing occupational illnesses and injuries. Heat-related maladies include heatstroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Sometimes intense heat causes burns if a worker places a hand on a hot surface.

There are times when heat, while not directly causing a health problem, may lead to a serious injury. Heat can fog up the safety glasses of outdoor construction workers. Heat may also produce sweaty palms which can make grasping a solid surface difficult. The dizziness heat creates may also result in a dangerous fall.

Heat inside offices

According to SHRM, working in a typical office environment does not produce a significant risk of heat exposure. The air conditioning and heating systems of many offices generally keep the environment well regulated and free of health hazards. Workers are likely to have problems with temperature only if it does not make the office comfortable enough to do their best work.

Interior workplaces exposed to heat

Some indoor workplaces involve intense levels of heat. These work settings may include the following:

  • Food canneries
  • Boiler rooms
  • Commercial kitchens
  • Laundries
  • Factories

In workplaces where heat is a significant factor, employers must take greater care to protect workers from heat. Sometimes it involves engineering measures that cool off work environments. Employers also should tend to their workers by providing a cool place to rest when needed and drinks like water. Locations like chemical plants may require more extensive measures like safety training and safety gear.