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CT workers: What you need to know about heat stress and workers’ comp

Heat stress is a problem for workers' across the nation, including here in Connecticut. The Connecticut Department of Health reports that 175 Americans are killed due to heat-related injuries every year.

A variety of occupations can put workers at risk for heat stress. Some examples include foundry work, bakeries, food canneries, chemical plants, construction and hazardous waste site activities. As a result, workers who suffer from this impairment could qualify for workers' compensation benefits.

The CDC recognizes five main types of heat stress:

  • Heat rash: a skin irritation that can look like small blisters. Workers who suffer from heat rash should keep the affected area dry.
  • Heat cramps: sweating more than normal while working could lead to a reduction in the body's salt level, increasing the risk of painful cramping. Cramping can lead to muscle pain and spasms. It is important for workers to take a break if suffering from this form of heat stress, since a cramp could impact one's work performance and potentially lead to further injury.
  • Heat syncope: this occurs when a worker faints or becomes dizzy due to dehydration or other causes.
  • Heat exhaustion: excessive loss of water and salt can lead to extreme weakness, dizziness, nausea, cramps and fast and shallow breathing. Rest and hydration is important at this stage of heat stress. If possible, a cool shower or bath is also recommended.
  • Heat stroke: the most severe form of heat stress, heat stroke is a medical emergency. This form of heat stress occurs when the body is unable to maintain its temperature. Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or death. Symptoms include chills, throbbing headache, confusion and slurred speech. A worker suffering from this form of heat stress should be treated with attempts to cool down the body through fanning and sponging with cool water. 911 should also be called.

Employers are encouraged to reduce the risk of heat stress by encouraging workers to rest, stay hydrated and where appropriate protective clothing when working in hot conditions. Connecticut's Department of Health also recommends employers provide ventilation, evaporative cooling and fans to help worker's avoid suffering from these ailments.

Remedies available for workers injured by heat stress

Those who are injured by any form of heat stress while working may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. Employers are required by OSHA and other regulations to provide certain working conditions for employees. Violation of these regulations is just one way to help support a claim for workers' compensation benefits. If you or a loved one suffered from heat stress while working, contact an experienced Connecticut workers' compensation lawyer to discuss your options.

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