After an especially brutal winter, it's finally summer and New York City residents are basking in the sun and enjoying the heat of summer. Along with the warmer temperatures, come hazards associated with heat exhaustion and stress. For individuals who work at warehouses, manufacturing facilities, restaurants and construction sites; heat-related illnesses and medical conditions are especially concerning and employers must take steps to protect and keep workers safe.
Heat-related injuries and illnesses may occur when temperatures climb near or in excess of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and the human body must work extra hard to cool off. Workers who perform assigned duties outdoors and are exposed to direct sunlight as well as those who must wear protective clothing and gear and who work in buildings with little to no air movement; are especially prone to suffering health problems related to heat exhaustion.
New York City residents who work in bakeries, manufacturing plants, factories, commercial kitchens and at construction sites are advised to inquire about an employer's heat illness prevention program. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration requires that employers provide workers who are risk of suffering extreme heat exposure with the following:
- Access to water
- Shaded or air-conditioned areas
- Frequent breaks to rest and drink water
- Reduced workloads to minimize physical exertion
- Proper education and training about the warning signs of heat-related illnesses and steps to take in the event a worker is suffering from a heat-related illness
Workers who are exposed to hot working conditions and who experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, a racing heart rate, confusion, weakness or seizures are advised to report such symptoms to a supervisor or employer as soon as possible. In cases where a worker suffers serious or permanent injuries as a result of heat-exposure while on the job, he or she may apply for workers' compensation benefits.