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Heat illness presents dangers for Connecticut workers

The summer heat is here, and while it may be enjoyable for a trip to the beach, the heat can present serious dangers for many Connecticut workers, including various forms of heat illness. Heat illness is a serious workplace illness, but, fortunately, with the proper precautions, one that is preventable.

Heat illnesses cover a range of ailments that result from excessively hot weather. Heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke constitute some of the variations of heat illnesses for those who work outside. These ailments affect thousands of workers every year, and, unfortunately, in the case of heat stroke, may result in death. Normally a person will be able to cool his or her body by sweating, but when the weather is particularly hot, and when accompanied by high humidity, simple sweating does not sufficiently lower a person's body temperature.

Connecticut employers must provide safe working conditions without exposure to excessive heat for their employees. OSHA recommends that employers proactively provide heat illness prevention programs to prevent workers from developing heat illnesses. Such a program involves providing workers with plenty of water, as well as opportunities to rest and access to shady conditions. For those workers who are new, or who have been away from the job for a period of time, OSHA recommends a period of acclimatization to build tolerance to the heat, as these workers are particularly vulnerable to heat illness. Additionally, it is imperative that workers are trained about the possibility of heat illness, as well as regularly monitored.

A worker who has experienced health problems due to a heat work-related illness may be able to obtain workers' compensation benefits to help pay his or her medical expenses and other associated costs. An attorney familiar with Connecticut's workers' compensation procedures may be able to offer assistance.

Source: OSHA, "Welcome to OSHA's Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers," accessed July 11, 2015

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