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Dangers of extreme heat on the job

North Carolina's outdoor workers may face particularly dangerous conditions in the summer heat. That's why the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is reminding employers to promote workplace safety by helping employees to avoid dangerous conditions linked to extreme heat. Under federal safety standards, employers operating job sites with high temperatures must establish a program designed to help employees prevent heat-related illness.

In particular, employers must provide outdoor workers with appropriate shade, rest and water to avoid injuries and illnesses linked to the heat. Dozens of employees lose their lives every year due to extreme heat while thousands more become ill because of exposure to high temperatures. Construction workers face a particularly severe risk, as over 40% of deaths linked to extreme heat take place at construction job sites. Safety advocates emphasize that workplace fatalities linked to extreme heat are almost entirely preventable with proper safety procedures and techniques.

Heat stroke and other severe illnesses linked to hot weather are far more likely when employees are not provided with proper amounts of rest, shade and water. This is especially true for workers who must use heavy, bulky protective gear to perform their jobs safely. Newer workers may be at particular risk for an on-the-job injury as they have not built up any tolerance for working in the extreme heat. People working as temporary labor on construction sites may face particularly high risks.

Employers have a responsibility to abide by federal workplace safety guidelines in order to protect workers from serious heat-related injuries. Someone who has been hurt on the job due to extreme temperatures, especially due to OSHA violations, can consult with a workers' compensation attorney.

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