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Many summer workplace injuries and illnesses can be prevented

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently reported that in 2014 about 18 people across the country died on the job from heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke. Additionally, over 2,600 workers became ill on the job from exposure to heat. An OSHA spokesperson commented that illnesses caused by heat, like many workplace injuries or illnesses, are almost always preventable. In Oklahoma, workers who take certain precautions are less likely to succumb to the heat this summer.

Water, rest and shade are essential for protecting workers from heat illnesses. OSHA encourages employers and managers to provide breaks for rehydration every 15 minutes and a cool place for workers to rest. Workers should also be educated to notice the symptoms of heat exhaustion and trained to be alert for those symptoms in co-workers.

Workers are especially at risk from heat stroke or exhaustion if their jobs require them to wear heavy clothing or to do laborious, physical work in hot or humid conditions such as construction or road work. Moreover, an employee who is new to the job or who is returning from extended time off may need some time to acclimate to the working conditions. Those employees may require more frequent breaks until they are able to tolerate the heat.

Instituting programs to prevent heat illnesses is a simple way to keep workers safe during the blazing summer months. Water, rest and shade cost employers very little and, in the end, may save money by keeping workers healthy and productive. However, if employees in Oklahoma suffer workplace injuries or illnesses, those workers have the right to contact an attorney to examine their claims and take the necessary steps to seek all applicable benefits through the state regulated workers' comp system.

Source:, "Important Reminder on Heat Illness Prevention Issued by the OSHA Training Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District", June 27, 2016

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