Dugan & Associates, P.C.
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Working outdoors and heat-related illness

For many Pennsylvania workers, heat-related illnesses can be a huge problem for those whose jobs require them to work outside during the summer. Not only can excessive heat cause severe illness that could keep an employee from being unable to work, it can also be deadly. However, Pennsylvania does not have heat-related illness prevention standards even though employers are required to eliminate or minimize recognized health risks under OSHA.

While all employees are at risk for heat-related illness, workers who have not worked outdoors in hot or humid conditions previously are most at risk because they have not built up any tolerance. Employers can and should allow their workers to acclimate to the conditions. If employers fail to do this, the employees are at risk for suffering heat stroke and other associated conditions. Employers should also provide a shaded water, a shaded area to rest and regular breaks.

Regardless of whether or not a state has their own heat-related illness prevention standards, employers are still required to minimize potential risks and known hazards. OSHA has a smartphone app available that allows employers to track temperature, humidity and cloud coverage, which can aid in keeping employees safe. Employers should also monitor their employees for any potential signs of illness and provide training to workers so that they can recognize if they are suffering from a heat-related illness.

If an employee suffers a workplace illness that was caused by excessive heat or unsafe working conditions, the employee may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. An attorney may assist with analyzing medical records to determine how the illness has affected the employee's ability to work and seek appropriate compensation from the employee's employer. If the employee's benefits were denied, the attorney may potentially have the insurance company review the case or take the case to court.

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