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Work injuries and illnesses resulting from heat exposure

Especially during the summer, employees in Connecticut are required to work in hot environments. Whether it is outside in the sun and summer heat, or indoors in a factory or plant near hot equipment or material, workers could suffer serious injuries and illnesses from heat exposure. Such a situation could pose significant health risks for an individual, making it important for employees to understand what rights they are afforded in the event that they are injured on the job.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration places a heavy focus on heat stress suffered by outdoor workers. Even their campaign emphasizes the importance of water, rest and shade. But what about employees vulnerable to heat stress that do not work outdoors?

Except for those working in Hazardous Waste operations and Emergency Response, OSHA doesn't have regulations that specifically address heat stress across the board. Thus, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health renewed its recommendation to implement a standard. This came after a review of scientific information assessing how working in the heat can affect workers. It was determined that heat can result in injuries, disease, and death, resulting in a reduction in productivity.

Nonetheless, even without a set standard, OSHA cited employers for exposing their workers to dangerous conditions. The standard that OSHA does use states that a workplace is required to be free from recognizable hazards that could cause or is likely to cause death or serious harm to employees. This standard can be applied to heat hazards occurring outdoors and indoors.

If you have suffered a work injury or illness due to heat exposure, it is important to understand your rights. Workers' compensation benefits might be available to you, which could help you offset financial hardships caused by medical bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, and other damages.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "It's Not Just the Heat-How OSHA Enforces Occupational Exposures to Hot Environments," Lisa Neuberger, June 1, 2016

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