Workers' compensation covers heat-related illnesses

Safety and health authorities say hundreds of heat-related deaths occur nationwide every year, including in California. Many of the workers' compensation claims for heat illness involve outdoor workers who were exposed to excessive heat. Although employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees, workers must know the danger signs to look for in themselves and their co-workers.

Special precautions must be taken, especially during July and August when heat waves pose additional threats. Excessive sweating causes the loss of salt and minerals, and frequent intake of water or sports drinks can rehydrate them. Signs of dehydration include heat cramps in muscles of the abdomen, arms and legs. Failure to rehydrate can lead to heat exhaustion with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, increased thirst, excessive sweating, weakness. I3t could lead to the loss of consciousness.

Heat rash is another danger sign, which occurs in areas where sweat does not evaporate. Irritated skin can appear in clusters of small, pimple-like, reddish blisters. Areas typically affected include the elbow creases, neck and groin. Heatstroke can follow if none of these symptoms are treated appropriately. This happens when the body can no longer regulate its internal temperature, and the victim can suffer seizures and lose consciousness.

Heatstroke can be fatal, and workers who are exposed to long periods of excessive heat must take frequent rests and drink fluids in shaded or air conditioned areas throughout the day. For those who suffer heat-related illnesses while working, the California workers' compensation insurance program will provide financial assistance regarding medical expenses and lost wages. An attorney with experience in this field of the law can assist with the navigation of the benefits claims.

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