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As California Heats Up, Know Your Rights Regarding Heat Illness

 Posted on March 10,2021 in Workers' Compensation

Santa Clara County workers compensation attorney

It is hard to believe, but spring is just around the corner in Santa Clara. While many welcome the warmer weather, it is important to consider the effect that the heat can have on workers. Heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, and heat cramps can affect both outdoor workers and indoor workers in high-risk occupations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 700 heat-related deaths occur in the United States each year. Heat illness also leads to thousands of non-fatal injuries including injuries sustained because of fainting. Those who are hurt may be able to recover damages through a workers compensation or personal injury claim depending on the details of their case.

OSHA Guidelines for Safe Work Environments

California is known for its warm, sunny weather. Unfortunately, working in hot environments can lead to serious and even fatal injuries. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) states that 50 – 70 percent of heat-related fatalities occur during the initial days of working in warm conditions when the body has not yet acclimatized to the hot environment. OSHA has established guidelines for employers with workers in outdoor or indoor environments that involve hot environments, heavy physical activity, or heavy clothing. Workers in certain industries are often at particularly high risk of heat-related illnesses and injuries, including those who work in:

  • Agriculture

  • Construction

  • Landscaping

  • Manufacturing

  • Warehousing

  • Mail delivery

  • Oil and gas well operations

  • Kitchens

  • Fire Service

OSHA encourages employees to offer sufficient water, rest breaks, shade, and ventilation. If possible, employers should utilize cooling fans or schedule work tasks to avoid the hottest part of the day. OSHA also recommends that employers provide training on how to recognize and prevent heat illness.

California Employers Are Required to Take Steps to Prevent Heat Illness by Law

Because heat-related illness can be so dangerous, California law specifically requires employers to take steps to prevent heat illnesses. Per Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard §3395, employers who hire outdoor workers must provide enough cool drinking water for employees to drink at least one quart per hour when the temperature is over 80 degrees. Employers are also expected to provide access to shade for employee cool-down breaks. When the temperature exceeds 95 degrees, employers must implement certain high-heat procedures including adequate methods for communication, observation, and reminders to drink water.

Contact a Santa Clara County Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered a heat-related illness or injury at work, contact Cramer & Martinez, LLP to discuss your legal options. A knowledgeable Morgan Hill workers’ compensation lawyer from our firm can help you pursue compensation for your lost income and medical bills. If a third party’s negligence contributed to your illness or injury, you may also be entitled to compensation through a personal injury claim. Call us today at 408-848-1113 for a free consultation.



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