Very soon, California workers will be exposed to the heat of summer, and they will rely on their employers to protect them from excessive exposure. Outdoor workers such as those in the construction, landscaping and agriculture industries are protected by the safety standards of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. However, indoor workers file many heat-related workers’ compensation claims each year, and the safety agency is working on developing standards to protect these workers from heat stress as well.
Many heat-related on-the-job deaths occur every year. One death cited in the database of the Bureau of Labor Statistics involved a temporary roof worker who collapsed from heat exhaustion on the job,and died three weeks later. Another case involved a U.S. Postal service worker who died in her mail truck that was not air conditioned on a 115-degree day. The 63-year-old letter carrier succumbed to excessively high body temperature.
In one case, a field technician of a telecommunications company reported feeling sick from exposure to extreme heat. His request to stop working was denied, and he later died after becoming unconscious. Another incident took place on a farm when a pregnant teenager died after working a nine-hour shift in the sun with no access to water and shade. regarding indoor heat hazards a warehouse worker reported that 15 workers collapsed after their exposure to excessively high temperatures and humidity.
Although Cal/OSHA has heat-safety standards in place, some workers will still undoubtedly suffer heat stress again this summer. Those who do can claim workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages, and the same applies for families who lose loved ones in such incidents in California. Legal counsel can assist with the navigation of the benefits claims process.