Keeping Texas Workers Safe During Summer Months

by Terry Bryant

Texans are accustomed to the sweltering heat of the summer months. While the temperatures run the gamut from hot to astonishingly hot, we typically know how to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our pets from the heat.

However, not all of us have the option of turning on the air conditioner when the heat becomes insufferable. Some types of workers simply don’t have that luxury. As we head into the hottest days of the year, it’s important for employers, supervisors, and workers to find ways to protect those who do their jobs outdoors.

Construction workers, farmers, landscapers – these are just a few of the occupations most susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Workers are guaranteed the right to a safe workplace, and it’s vital that their employers remember that providing adequate shade, water, and rest is key to preventing heat illness in the summer.

Heat-Related Illness in the Workplace

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 18 people died and 2,630 suffered from heat-related illness in 2014. Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, are preventable if employers and workers take the proper safety precautions and identify signs and risks for heat illness.

The onset of heat-related illnesses can be rapid, especially if workers aren’t used to working in the heat. People develop a heat tolerance to withstand hot and humid conditions, but building that tolerance takes time and it can be lost quickly after just a few days away from the job. A worker who has taken a week off work needs to gradually rebuild their tolerance to hot and humid weather conditions.

Identifying Signs of Heat Illness

According to OSHA, signs of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headache, sweaty skin, weakness, cramps, nausea, and an accelerated heartbeat. If a worker shows any of these signs, it is important to put them in the shade, give them water, and seek medical attention if the condition doesn’t improve.

Heat strokes can be fatal. Common signs of heat stroke include confusion, fainting, convulsions, high body temperature, and red, hot, and dry skin. If a worker suffers a heat stroke, they should be treated immediately by a doctor.

Preventing Heat Illness

The best way to protect workers from heat illness is to enact safety protocols. Make sure that workers have constant access to water and shade. When the temperatures rise and the sun is out, encourage workers to take breaks as often as needed. Wearing lighter shades of clothing can also keep body temperatures down. Make sure that there is a plan to access emergency medical care in the event of a worker injury.

Most workplace injuries and deaths are preventable. This is especially true when it comes to heat-related illnesses. Plan wisely before the heat sets in to make sure your workers are as safe as possible. If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury and would like to speak to a Texas injury attorney, call Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law.

To schedule a free consultation with Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, contact us today by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at 1 (800) 444-5000 or locally in the Houston area at (713) 973-8888.