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How Dangerous Is Heat For California Workers?
Edited By: Cecily Johnson
Every job comes with some amount of risk to worker safety. While some occupations are inherently more dangerous than others are, it is crucial to understand that there are universal threats that can cause severe injuries for any worker.
Extreme heat is one such threat.
Common Heat Related Health Problems:
When the heat reaches extreme temperatures, workers can be in critical danger. According to a recent New York Times article, heat can cause as many as 20,000 additional work injuries per year. Some of which, can be deadly.
Common Heat Related Injuries:
- Respiratory difficulty
- Severe sunburns
Even if the heat is not the direct cause of an injury or illness, it can contribute to symptoms like confusion or loss of balance, resulting in accidents like falling or tripping. Without adequate protection from the sun, frequent breaks and access to water, workers can be in great danger of a heat-related accident or illness.
Who Is Most At Risk For Heat Related Injuries?
While any worker can succumb to injuries or illnesses caused by extreme heat, some are at a higher risk than others. These include:
- Older (55+) workers
- People in generally dangerous occupations such as construction, firefighting, police work, etc.
- People who work outdoors such as landscapers, security guards, migrant workers, etc.
Don’t Dismiss Your Legal Options.
If extreme weather is to blame for an injury on the job, it is crucial to understand your rights in this situation. Most workers in this situation are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, which they may not realize. Too often, people think these benefits are only for catastrophic accidents, not smaller heat-related illnesses. Additionally, they may not know that temporary, part-time and immigrant workers without proper documentation may also be eligible. These misconceptions can prevent a person from pursuing the benefits for which they may be eligible. Thus, taking these conditions and your rights seriously can be crucial in helping you and your loved ones recover from heat-related illnesses.
Flavelle, C. (2021, July 15). Work injuries tied to heat are vastly undercounted, study finds. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/15/climate/heat-injuries.html