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What Types of Workplace Heat Illnesses Qualify for Workers’ Comp?

 Posted on July 16,2021 in Workers' Compensation

gilroy heat illness workers comp lawyerDuring the summer of 2021, California and many other parts of the United States have experienced record-breaking temperatures. This extreme heat has put many people at risk, especially those who work outdoors, around hot equipment, or in buildings without environmental controls. Employers are required to take the necessary measures to prevent heat illnesses for workers, including ensuring that they have sufficient water and access to shade. However, workers in high-risk occupations or others who experience extreme heat may still suffer heat-related injuries or illnesses. Whether this occurred because an employer did not take the proper safety precautions or for other reasons, employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits for any health issues that occurred because of the work they performed.

Common Heat Illnesses in the Workplace

Health issues resulting from extreme heat can vary in severity depending on factors such as the level of heat a person is exposed to and their underlying health conditions. These illnesses may include:

  • Heat stroke - If a person is unable to regulate their body’s temperature and cool off properly, they may overheat to temperatures of 106 degrees Fahrenheit or more. This can lead to confusion, slurred speech, seizures, and loss of consciousness. If the proper emergency medical treatment is not provided, this illness can lead to permanent disabilities or death.

  • Heat exhaustion - A person may experience dehydration due to excessive sweating without drinking enough water. This can lead to headaches, dizziness, weakness in the body, and nausea. A worker may be able to recover if they drink water, rest, and cool off, but if symptoms persist or get worse, medical treatment may be needed.

  • Rhabdomyolysis - Performing physical work during extreme heat can cause the muscles to break down or rupture. This can release proteins and electrolytes into the bloodstream that may cause seizures, heart irregularities, and damage to the kidneys. Immediate medical care will be needed to address these issues and prevent further harm to bodily systems.

  • Heat cramps - Excessive sweating may lead to low levels of salt in the body, causing pain, cramps, or spasms in the muscles. If symptoms persist, or if a person has heart problems, medical treatment may be necessary.

  • Heat syncope - Extended periods of standing or working on one’s feet may lead to symptoms of dizziness or light-headedness, or a person may faint.

  • Heat rash - Skin irritation may occur due to high heat and sweating, and this may lead to significant pain and discomfort.

When a person experiences illnesses or injuries related to extreme heat in the workplace, they will be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits will cover any medical treatment that is needed, including emergency medical care for serious illnesses and ongoing treatment to address the symptoms and effects of their condition. If heat illness is serious enough that a person will miss work while recovering, they will be able to receive temporary disability benefits that address the loss of income during this time.

Contact Our Gilroy Workers’ Comp Attorneys for Heat-Related Injuries

The attorneys of Cramer & Martinez, LLP are prepared to work with you to make sure you receive the workers’ comp benefits you need following a heat illness in the workplace. We will assist with filing a claim and addressing any denials of benefits. Contact our Santa Clara County workers’ compensation lawyers by calling 408-848-1113 to set up your free consultation.


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