Heat Stress Can Cause Work-Related Injuries, Fatalities
Working in the Mississippi summer heat is uncomfortable and unavoidable for many occupations. Sometimes, extreme heat can have serious consequences such as work accidents resulting in injuries, illnesses - even death.
Mississippi leads the U.S. in on-the-job heat-related injuries and deaths
Mississippi leads the nation in occupational heat injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. About 4% of all occupational heat deaths happen in Mississippi, according to research. On average, 1 or 2 workers in Mississippi die annually from heat exposure.
Employers have a legal responsibility to provide employees with safe working conditions. But, whether due to negligence or human error, serious accidents occur, and the health and safety of workers are put at risk.
Identifying heat risks on the job in Mississippi
Workers are advised to follow the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) "20% Rule," meaning the amount of time a worker is subjected to extreme heat should start at 20% of the work day and increase in daily 20% increments until the employee is able to endure an entire shift.
OSHA's best practices may help employees avoid succumbing to workplace heat hazards like:
- Indoor radiant heat sources.
- Direct exposure to the sun.
- High temperature and humidity.
- Physical exertion.
- Limited air movement.
The dangers of heat exposure
Over-exposure to heat can cause many severe injuries and illnesses - especially for people with existing health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, over age 55, or who have had a previous heat-related illness.
The most dangerous time for workers at risk of dangerous heat exposure is June-August, between noon and 6 p.m. At work, common heat injuries include:
- Exertion injuries. A recent study found that about 90% of all exertion injuries reported by workers involve heat stress.
- Heat strain.
- Heat rash.
- Heat syncope (fainting).
- Heat cramps.
- Heat stroke is a potentially fatal condition in which the body is unable to cool itself.
- Heat exhaustion.
- Rhabdomyolysis, which involves muscle breakdown.
- Kidney disease or injury.
- Severe injuries like fractures, cuts, lacerations, and crushing. Over-exposure to heat can reduce a worker's reaction time and decision-making skills. These reduced abilities can cause workplace accidents and injuries.
Every year, more than 30 workers are killed, and between 3,000 and 4,000 are seriously injured due to heat exposure nationwide. Some jobs put workers at a higher risk for heat injuries and illnesses than others. Industries with workers at the highest risk for this type of injury include:
- Agriculture, farming.
- Construction and extraction.
- Package delivery.
- Bakeries, kitchens, restaurants, laundries.
- Oil and gas well operations.
- Electrical utilities.
- Iron and steel mills.
- Installation and maintenance.
- Health care.
How a work injury lawyer can help
You have rights if you have been hurt at work due to heat-related illness or injury. Whether you have suffered from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or other heat-related conditions while on the job, our dedicated legal team is ready to help.
At Tabor Law Firm, P.A., we have a proven track record of success in handling work injury cases, including those involving heat-related illnesses and injuries. Our experienced attorneys have a deep understanding of the complexities of workers' compensation law and can guide you through the entire legal process.
We know that dealing with a work-related injury can be overwhelming, but you don't have to go through it alone. To find out how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation. With offices in Ridgeland and Jackson, we serve clients throughout Mississippi.