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Injuries tied to heat exposure are underreported, study claims

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2022 | Workers' Compensation |

When you’re at work in California, you know that there are days that can get extremely hot. When it’s humid and hot, the heat can feel oppressive. Even on a cooler day, being in the sun all day can make some people sick.

Extreme heat causes more workplace injuries than are reported, it’s believed, especially among poorer workers. A new research study has found that injuries related to heat but that don’t include heat stroke, such as mishandling machinery, falling or being struck by vehicles, could add an additional 20,000 workplace injuries per year to the tally, and that’s just in California.

Why does heat make it more likely for workers to get hurt?

While the heat itself is problematic, the bigger issue is that high temperatures make it harder for workers to concentrate. Heat is also problematic because people don’t always assume that it could negatively impact indoor workers.

Did you know that those working in warehouses and manufacturing plants are also at risk of injuries as the heat rises? Outdoor workers may be directly impacted by the sun, but those inside could also face rising temperatures, a lack of concentration and a greater risk of injuries.

What is the link between this extreme heat and workplace injuries?

The study looked at reports from between 2001 and 2018 to check the temperature on the dates those injuries occurred. The study tried to determine if the number of injuries increased on days when temperatures were higher. If so, then how much?

The data showed that temperatures between 85 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit increased the risk of injury by around 5% to 7% compared to days in the 60s. At temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the increased chance of injury shot up to 10% to 15%.

All this goes to show is that heat is a real problem in the workplace. If you are working in higher temperatures, take more breaks and make sure to stay hydrated. Know what to do if anyone shows signs of heat-related illnesses, and be on alert for a greater risk of injuries as the temperature rises.