Ohio Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Heat Stress Linked to Increased Work-Related Injuries

Male construction worker resting and drinking water from bottle on a very hot day.

The impact of high temperatures on work-related injuries is a growing concern that leads to many workers' compensation claims. A recent study conducted by the Workers Compensation Research Institute has shed light on the relationship between rising outdoor temperatures and the increased risk of workplace injuries.

How does the risk of work-related injuries increase with rising temperatures?

The study reveals a significant correlation between rising outdoor temperatures and the increased risk of work-related injuries. Researchers found that on days when the high temperature ranged from 85-90°F, the chance of a work-related injury was an estimated 4.3% greater than on days when temperatures were between 65-70°F.

As temperatures continue to rise, so does the risk of work-related injuries. The study discovered that when daily high temperatures reached 90-95°F, the probability of injury increased to 5.3%. Furthermore, when temperatures soared to 95°F or above, the likelihood of injury rose to around 6%.

What types of injuries occur due to heat stress?

The study found that excessive heat has a more significant impact on traumatic injuries, which include fractures, dislocations, contusions, and lacerations. These types of injuries often require immediate medical attention and can lead to long-term consequences for the affected workers.

These injuries can be caused by various factors, such as:

  • Heat-related dizziness that leads to slips, trips, and falls
  • Impaired judgment or slower reaction times due to heat stress
  • Fatigue that causes workers to lose focus or grip on tools and equipment

Additionally, workers may experience heat stroke. This medical emergency occurs when the body's temperature regulation system fails, leading to a core temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher. Symptoms may include confusion, altered mental state, hot and dry skin, rapid heartbeat, and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke can result in permanent disability or death if not treated promptly.

How does the construction industry fare in high-temperature conditions?

The construction industry is particularly vulnerable to high temperatures and heat stress. The study found that the risk of injury in the construction sector increased significantly when temperatures reached dangerous levels.

In the construction industry, the chance of an injury was 14% higher when the daily high temperature was 90-95°F compared to 65-70°F. This risk further increased to 20% when the temperature reached a high of 95-100°F.

Several factors contribute to the heightened risk of injury in the construction industry during high-temperature conditions:

  • Heavy, non-breathable personal protective equipment can exacerbate heat stress
  • Physical labor in hot conditions leads to increased fatigue and decreased mental alertness
  • Exposure to direct sunlight on construction sites with limited shade or cooling options

Are there regional differences in the impact of work-related heat stress?

According to the study, there are regional differences in how high temperatures affect the risk of work-related injuries. Workers in the South generally showed a higher risk of injury when exposed to high temperatures. However, the Northeast experienced an 8% rise in injuries when the daily high temperature was 90-100°F, compared to when it was 65-70°F.

Some reasons for the increase in worker heat stress injuries in the Northeast include:

  • Workers in the Northeast may be less acclimatized to high temperatures, which makes them more susceptible to heat-related illnesses and injuries.
  • The Northeast's infrastructure and workplaces may be less adapted to cope with extreme temperatures.
  • The region's humidity levels can exacerbate the effects of high temperatures on the body.

How can this study help prevent heat stress in the workplace?

The study's findings can serve as a catalyst for policymakers to prioritize the development and implementation of comprehensive heat stress prevention regulations. Policymakers can use this information to:

  • Establish clear guidelines for employers regarding heat stress prevention, including requirements for worker training, access to cool drinking water, and mandatory rest breaks.
  • Develop regional and industry-specific regulations that consider the unique challenges faced by workers in different areas and sectors.
  • Allocate resources for research and development of innovative solutions, such as advanced PPE and cooling technologies, to mitigate the effects of extreme heat on worker safety.
  • Collaborate with employers, labor organizations, and health and safety experts to create comprehensive, evidence-based strategies for protecting workers from heat-related injuries.

Consult with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer

If heat stress on the job led to a work-related injury, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. This covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs while you recover. However, it's important to seek legal guidance before filing a claim. The attorneys at Hochman & Plunkett Co., L.P.A. understand Ohio's workers' comp laws and have experience handling workplace accident cases like yours.

We can help you apply for workers' comp, connect you with the right doctor, and advocate for fair and maximum compensation on your behalf. Contact us online or call one of our Ohio law offices today for a free consultation. We can assess your case and answer any questions you have.

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