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Avoiding heat stroke at construction sites

The dangers workers encounter at New Jersey construction sites are known, and unknown, seen and unseen. The worst dangers are the ones that are unknown and unseen. One such danger relates to heat. Most workers think that a hot day is nothing to worry about -- especially if they are strong and healthy -- but everyone faces the risk of heat stroke no matter how healthy they are. It is important that workers do not overlook heat dangers to avoid suffering serious health consequences.

The best way to prevent a heat-related illness involves taking three very important steps:

-- Drink lots of water. Workers should bring water for themselves and employers should provide their workers with plenty of water as well -- in addition to encouraging them to drink it.

-- Take rest breaks. A hot day can catch up to a worker quickly, and before he or she knows it, the worker has overheated and is suffering from a heat stroke situation. This is very dangerous and taking breaks -- especially breaks out of the sun -- is an essential way of preventing overheating.

-- Stay out of direct sunlight. Whenever possible, workers should seek shade to carry out their job duties. If no shade is available, a large hat can help, but nothing can replace a big tree or covered area that provides a wide canopy of shade.

Sometimes, workers and employers alike make the mistake of believing that water or drinking liquid is enough; however, all three of these suggestions are needed in order to limit the chances of heat stoke. Furthermore, merely encouraging rest breaks is not sufficient. Employers need to actually schedule mandatory rest breaks in order to prevent overzealous workers from inadvertently hurting themselves. If an air-conditioned trailer is available, this should be used for rest purposes. Employers need to take extra care with workers who are new to hot conditions, slowly building up their heat tolerances over time.

Workers who suffer heat stroke and heat-related injuries will be able to get work injury related medical bills paid for in most cases. A workers' compensation claim can be filed, and if the claim is successfully navigated, the worker will have access to financial assistance that in some cases includes wage-replacement benefits if time away from work is required for recovery purposes.

Source: Blueprints, "Heat: The Often-Unseen Danger on Construction Sites," Jordan Hollingsworth, accessed Aug. 04, 2016

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