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How can you prevent workplace injuries caused by heat exposure?

California workers who are employed in jobs that require them to work outdoors face a particular risk for injury and illness during the summer months. If you are an employee who is exposed to the sun and heat throughout the work day, it is important to understand how workplace injuries related to weather and temperature can be prevented. Employers must strive to put into place certain preventative measures for the benefit of all employees.

Outdoor workers should be provided the ability to take frequent breaks and have access to free drinking water. Workers should strive to prevent any unnecessary risk by wearing hats, staying in the shade, hydrating and wearing the proper clothing. Failure to do any of the aforementioned can result in heat-related illnesses, sunburn and other injuries. 

Even when a worker follows protocol and employers provide a safe work environment, California workers can still contract heat-related illnesses. Any individual who becomes sick or unable to work because of heat exposure at work has the right to seek certain financial benefits to compensate for any financial losses. As the effects of heat-related illness are not always immediately noticed, workers should seek to protect his or her entitlements as soon as possible. 

Workers' compensation benefits may be granted to individuals who have become sick or suffered an injury because of a work accident. Even the families of those who have sustained fatal workplace injuries could be eligible for benefits to cover the cost of lost wages, medical expenses and emotional trauma. Obtaining deserved benefits is not always simple, but workers have legal rights that should be protected.

Source: osha.gov, "Working Outdoors in Warm Climates", Accessed on July 6, 2015

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