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Staying safe in hot work environments

Summers in North Carolina can get hot, which is a particular problem for people who have to work outdoors or in hot indoor environments. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an ongoing campaign to raise awareness of how heat affects the human body and how employers can protect workers from the negative effects of working in extreme heat.

Some of the most recent information for employers about the effects of heat stress on the body comes from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Additionally, NIOSH has updated information on monitoring workers for signs of heat stress as well as how protective clothing and equipment can help.

Exposure to high temperatures can put someone at risk for heat stroke, heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses, and it could even cause death in some cases. Working in heat can also increase the risk of accidents or injury because workers may have sweaty palms, fogged glasses or goggles, or difficulty concentrating due to discomfort from the heat.

Employers are advised to make sure that employees are aware of the dangers of heat stress and how to recognize the symptoms. Workers should be encouraged to drink small amounts of water frequently rather than large amounts of water only when thirsty. Regular work breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas should be scheduled.

Employees who are covered by workers compensation may be able to recoup costs for any illness or injury that occurs while at work or while engaged in work activities away from the job site. Workers compensation might provide lost wages, compensate the family of a worker who died from a work-related injury or illness, or pay someone who is a caregiver for a person who was injured or made ill on the job.

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