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Hazards of exposure to outdoor and indoor heat at work

During summer months, those in the construction or landscaping industries and more can experience working conditions in extreme heat. Those working in restaurants, chemical plants, warehouses and more may experience high-heat exposure year-round in indoor workplaces.

New York City employees may fail to realize the consequences of exposure to heat, whether through high temperatures or humidity, direct contact with hot objects, strenuous physical activity or more. In response to the dangers that exposure to heat can cause, OSHA reminds workers of the necessities of understanding why heat can be a hazard, whether you could be at risk and what to do to prevent an illness or injury.

The hazards of high heat exposure

High heat exposure can cause serious injuries and even fatalities. According to OSHA, the body rids itself of excess heat through circulating blood to the skin and sweating. When cooling off becomes more difficult due to extreme heat, the body may begin to store heat, causing your temperature and heart rate to rise.

This can result in symptoms including loss of focus, irritability, sickness, dizziness or fainting and more. Heat-related illnesses can include heat rash, cramps, exhaustion, stroke and more. In severe cases, heat stroke can become fatal without immediate treatment.

When is it too hot?

The following guide from OSHA determines the risks associated with high temperatures and protective measures to take, according to temperatures stated in Fahrenheit:

  • Less than 91 degrees. This is a lower risk level where workers should proceed with caution and exercise basic heat safety preparation measures.
  • 91 to 103 degrees. This poses a moderate risk level, where workers should both exercise heat safety precautions and remain aware of potential hazards.
  • 103 to 115 degrees. This poses a high-risk level. Employers should take extra care to protect employees from the dangers of exposure to this kind of heat.
  • 115 degrees or greater. Posing very high to extreme risks, both employers and workers should exercise aggressive protective measures.

Protective measures to take in high temperatures are simple yet effective. Drink water, rest and find shade.

In some situations, you may fail to act in time to take such preventative measures. When you suffer a heat-related illness or injury that prevents you from fulfilling your job duties for weeks, months or more, report your injury to your employer as soon as possible and inquire about the process to file a claim for workers’ compensation.

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