Heat illness is a very real concern during the hot summer months in New York and — for that matter — anywhere else in the United States. Workers who need to perform their jobs outside in hot conditions for extended periods of time most at risk for contracting the most common forms of heat illness.
Here are different types of heat illness that employers and workers need to do everything they can to avoid:
Heat stroke: At a certain point, it just gets too hot for most human bodies to function properly. When the body’s temperature regulation system isn’t able to cool properly, the body temperature can rise to dangerous levels. These tend to be temperatures higher than 104°F. Just like when people have a fever that’s so high it causes an additional health concern, people suffering from heat stroke are at risk of suffering from loss of consciousness, confusion and seizures. It’s important to call 911 immediately if a worker appears to be suffering from heat stroke. While waiting for emergency responders to arrive, it’s a good idea to put the worker in a shady place, circulate the air and wet the worker with wet towels and ice, or soak the worker’s clothes with cool water.
Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is what may happen before heat stroke. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea, irritability, weakness, thirst, confusion, profuse sweating and a body temperature over 100.4°F. Treatment for heat exhaustion is similar to heat stroke, but a 911 call may not be necessary unless the condition doesn’t improve. Give the worker cold compresses, put him or her in the shade, wet the worker with cold water and give him or her cool water to drink.
If you’ve suffered from the symptoms of heat illness on the job, you may be able to pursue compensation to pay for your medical care by filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Protecting Workers from the Effects of Heat,” accessed June 15, 2018