If you work outside during the summertime or in another hot environment in Georgia, it’s important to know about the dangers of heat stress. Ideally, your employer should provide you with training on preventing heat stress, how it affects your health, and how to reduce risks by following safety protocols. Understanding the causes, symptoms and risk factors associated with heat stress (sometimes called “heat exhaustion”) can help workers avoid the illnesses and injuries that commonly occur on job sites where the temperatures are above 86 degrees.
IMPORTANT: If you need medical attention for heat stress or another injury on the job, be sure to tell the treating doctor that your injury or illness is related to your job duties. This is very important when you file for workers’ comp benefits in Georgia. To learn more, please see our Workers’ Comp FAQ.
Health issues related to heat stress
Some of the enhanced workplace risks caused by heat stress include dizziness, passing out and falling down, sweaty palms (which can cause tools or other objects to slip) and safety glasses fogging up. Workers can also suffer burns from making accidental contact with steam or hot surfaces. Some of the health factors that increase the risk of heat stress include being overweight, being over the age of 40, taking certain medications, and having high blood pressure or heart disease.
One severe complication from heat stroke is a condition called Rhabdomyolysis. This results in the body suffering severe muscle cramping. The muscles can break down and emit a protein into the blood that can cause severe kidney problems.
Talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you have suffered any of these types of heat-related work injuries or illnesses.
Workers prone to heat stress
Heat stroke in the workplace can happen outside or inside. For example, working outside for an extended period of time on a hot summer day is obviously risky, but so is working inside a warehouse or factory with poor air conditioning or ventilation.
Heat stress may lead to heat rashes, heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Employees who are regularly outside or in heated environments are more likely to suffer heat stress. Some of the individuals facing the highest risk of heat stress include factory workers, bakery workers, warehouse workers, workers in the boiler room, farmers, miners and construction workers.
Employees sidelined from work by complications from heat stress or other injuries may file for workers’ compensation benefits.
Recovering from heat stress
If you have suffered heat stress caused by your job, you should talk to an experienced workers’ comp lawyer who knows the workers’ compensation system in Georgia. For more on what to do and not to do after a work injury or illness, please see our Georgia Workers’ Comp Dos and Don’ts.