You might be able to easily imagine why a person wandering in a hot desert with no shade, food or water would be at risk for injury or death. Would you be surprised to learn that you yourself would face a similar risk in the workplace if you had to carry out your duties in extreme heat? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says workers who spend time in hot temperatures, especially outdoors, are at risk for heat stress and other injuries.
You don’t have to necessarily be outdoors to suffer a heat injury. Many indoor locations can get hot as well, such as in a boiler room or warehouse. You also don’t have to be in the heat for hours on end for it to have an adverse effect on you, which is why it’s important to always closely monitor your condition if you’re working in the heat.
Your age, weight and general health condition are key factors
If you’re age 65 or older and still earning an income, you might find that you can’t do all the things you used to be able to do, such as lift heavy objects with ease or move across a distance with great speed. Your body might feel sore after a full day’s work as well. Being older also means you have a greater risk for heat stress.
If you are overweight or have an underlying health condition, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, it increases your risk even more. Many people, including those who are under age 65, take medications for various reasons on a regular basis. If you are in this group, it’s critical to make sure that the medication you take is not affected by extreme heat.
Your employer is obligated to keep you safe
There are several things you can do to stay safe when working in hot temperatures, such as drinking plenty of water and taking breaks in a shaded area. When you were hired for your job, your employer should have provided proper training and equipment to keep you safe, which would include making sure you know the safety measures for working in extreme heat if that is part of your job.
If you happen to be a farmer, a firefighter, a construction worker or factory worker, you have a high risk of developing heat stress. As heat stress progresses, you could suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke, develop a rash or suffer other symptoms. Many workers wind up filing a workers’ compensation claim if their heat-related injuries prevent returning to the workplace during recovery.