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Understanding the heat-related illnesses that can affect workers - II

In a previous post, we began discussing how even though most of us are welcoming the return of 80- and 90-plus degree days with open arms, it's nevertheless important to remember that these elevated temperatures can present a very real threat to wellbeing of outdoor workers, including those who earn a living in landscaping, agriculture, construction, and oil and gas.

In recognition of this fact and the need to help make the summer of 2017 as safe as possible, our blog discussed the various heat-related illnesses of which workers need to be aware as the mercury climbs. We'll continue this effort in today's post, examining the need for workplace training.  

Workplace training

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health advises all employers with personnel who will be working outdoors in the coming months to provide heat illness prevention training that is tailored to both the type of work to be performed and the specific conditions of worksites.

This training, which should occur prior to the commencement of any outdoor work in hot conditions, should focus on the following elements:

  • Recognizing the symptoms of heat-related illnesses in themselves and others, and the appropriate responses
  • Using and caring for heat-protective equipment and clothing
  • Providing the necessary first aid to stricken co-workers
  • Understanding how personal protective equipment, certain apparel and excess exertion can create an additional heat load   

Training efforts shouldn't stop there, however, as NIOSH indicates those tasked with supervising outdoor workers should also receive supplemental training covering:

  • Responding to employees who show symptoms of heat-related illnesses (including emergency responses)
  • Monitoring of weather reports
  • Supervising and encouraging rest breaks and/or fluid intake
  • Reacting to heat advisories
  • Implementing acclimatization measures for new and experienced workers

We'll continue this important discussion in future posts, including looking at recommendations for preventing heat-related illnesses.

In the meantime, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you've been seriously injured while on the job and your claim for workers' compensation benefits has been unjustly denied.

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