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How can heat illnesses at work lead to serious injuries?

On Behalf of | Nov 25, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

In the relentless pursuit of productivity, worker safety often takes a back seat. One often overlooked hazard that lurks in the workplace shadows is the risk of heat illnesses.

Beyond the discomfort of increasing temperatures, heat-related conditions can escalate into serious injuries, posing a considerable threat to the workforce.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion, the initial stage of heat-related illnesses, may not stand out much at the beginning. Symptoms such as excessive sweating, weakness and nausea typically occur first. Some people may dismiss these as just discomfort.

However, if not addressed promptly, heat exhaustion can lead to more severe consequences. Dehydration can hurt cognitive functions and physical coordination, laying the groundwork for accidents and injuries on the job.

Heat stroke

Among the most dangerous outcomes of heat exposure to high temperatures is heat stroke. As the body’s cooling mechanisms fail, core temperature spikes to dangerous levels.

Impaired judgment and disorientation from a heat stroke increase the likelihood of accidents, turning what started as a heat-related illness into a workplace problem. This condition also raises the chance of long-term damage to organs and death. Between 2018 and 2020, 3,066 Americans died from heat-related issues.

Employer neglect

Some employers may push workers past their natural limits. Putting in place heat safety programs, incorporating regular breaks and giving workers time to drink water are all important. Supervisors need to recognize early signs of heat-related distress, ensuring swift intervention to prevent the escalation of these conditions.

Ignoring the silent threat of heat-related illnesses is not just a matter of workplace discomfort. It is a gamble with the well-being and lives of those who keep the wheels of industry turning.