Though it may not look like an island paradise, New York City’s humid subtropical climate can lead to frequent hot, sticky days each summer. If you’re working in a construction site, heat isn’t just an uncomfortable nuisance – it can be a danger to your health, causing symptoms ranging from dizziness to collapse to seizures.
Over 40% of heat stroke related deaths occur in the construction industry. But with the right precautions in place, you can avoid this danger for yourself and your team when working long hours in the summer.
Hazards of heat
Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat injury. It is caused by your body overheating to the point where it cannot cool down. If left untreated, it can seriously damage your vital organs or even kill you. You increase your risk for heat stroke when performing strenuous physical activity, like the kind required for construction work. If you are overexerted, your risk rises. Make sure that your construction site has methods in place to reduce heat from the sun and equipment, proper protective gear, and available drinking water.
Your right to a safe work site
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that workers have a safe workplace free of hazards. It also protects workers’ rights to raise concerns about workplace safety without the fear of retaliation by their employers. While many people are exposed to heat, humidity, and physical activity at work, construction workers are particularly high-risk. In 2011, OSHA created its Heat Illness Prevention Campaign, aimed at educating workers and employers on the three best ways to prevent heat illness, particularly heat stroke: water, rest, and shade.
Your employer is responsible for creating a work site without danger – in this case, they need to mitigate the risk of overexertion and subsequent heat stroke. Your employer must provide adequate hydration, time to rest, and shade. They must also prepare for situations where, even with these precautions, a heat stroke emergency could occur. Employers should continuously monitor workers for signs of potential heat stroke in conditions of strong sun, high humidity, and little air movement.
What should I do if my construction site may cause heat stroke?
If you feel that your work site may put construction workers at risk for heat stroke, contact OSHA right away by calling 1-800-321-OSHA. Take the next step to protect your rights as an employee by contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn are prepared to advocate for you in case of injury on the job. Call 718-866-3914 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Se habla español.