Every summer we are driving along in our air conditioned cars (or on air conditioned public transportation) and we see road side crews working or construction crews working in the sweltering heat. Sometimes in 100 degree heat (or higher).
Already this summer we have experienced some hot hot temperatures in the DC, Maryland and Virginia areas. And many area workers know it.
According to OSHA , employers could be doing a better job at protecting its workers in the heat. In a study done by OSHA, in 2012, 31 outdoor workers died in the heat and about 4,120 had fallen ill. And over the past 10 years there has been an average of 36 deaths and 2,180 heat-related illnesses each year. Officials at OSHA think that the true numbers could be higher, mostly because autopsies are not performed on victims and many heat-related deaths are listed as heart attacks.
All those who work outside are vulnerable, but the most vulnerable are those that are called in at the last minute to fill in a vacancy--temporary workers. This is because they have not had a chance to acclimate to the heat.
Employers have to make sure that their employees are drinking lots of water and taking breaks, but more importantly they have to be given water and breaks. As anyone who works out in the heat, you know that you have to take it slow at first until your body is accustomed to the conditions. But many workers under pressure do not have that luxury, especially those who are temporary and want full time employment.
OSHA started a campaign in 2011 to remind workers and employers of the need of water and rest in the heat (and of course shade) for outdoor jobs, they rely on complaints to bring unsafe working conditions to their attention.
The agency has even created a smartphone app that tells workers when the heat index is reaching dangerous levels.
If you have fallen ill due to the heat, contact us. Has someone in your family died to due to the sweltering heat while working outdoors? Give us a call at (202) 393-3200 and let us help you. We are here to protect the rights of workers and their families. We had a brutal winter and it looks like we are going to have a brutal summer, so protect yourself in this heat.
For more information on this story head over to OSHA.gov.