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Workplace injuries: OSHA warns about the threats of heat illness

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration often warns employers in Iowa and other Midwestern states about the high temperatures their workers may be exposed to at this time of the year. Extreme heat can cause workplace injuries that may even be fatal. OSHA recently issued such warnings about expectations of temperatures reaching highs of 90 to 100 degrees. Employers were reminded of the special precautions that need to be taken to protect workers from heat-related illnesses.

The agency says workers in the farming and construction industries are at the highest risk because most of their jobs are done outdoors. However, other industries such as garden services and tree trimmers are also typically exposed to direct sunlight that can reportedly push the heat index values up by as much as 15 degrees. Other vulnerable workers who do not work outside include workers in hot environments, such as boiler rooms in factories, firefighters and employees in bakeries.

The precautionary measures recommended by the OSHA guidelines include the drinking of cool water as frequently as every 15 minutes -- even when not thirsty. Regular rest in cool shady area, appropriate light-colored cool clothing and hats to shield the sun are vital aspects of protection. Workers are also asked to keep an eye on each other, especially those who are older than 65, overweight or have heart problems or high blood pressure.

Iowa workers who have suffered heat-related illnesses or other workplace injuries may be facing medical expenses and absences from work that can have a severe impact on the finances of their families. Fortunately, financial aid is available through the workers' compensation insurance program. Benefits claims may be filed with the insurance system, and employees can expect to receive compensation to cover medical expenses along with wage replacement that will be based on their average weekly income.

Source: wfmj.com, "OSHA warns of heat safety precautions in Midwest", Christine Holmes, July 19, 2016

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