Common Summer Heat Injuries In South Florida
Summer in South Florida can involve excruciatingly high temperatures, and employees who work outdoors can be at particularly high risk of summer heat injuries. According to the Florida Climate Center, summer is often known colloquially as Florida’s “hot season,” and the months of June through July are the warmest. Over time, the “hot season” temperatures have been rising, and the conditions have intensified. Some industries are more likely to have workers who are exposed to these conditions, and it is critical to understand who is at risk, how these injuries happen and can be prevented, and what to do if you are harmed. Our West Palm Beach workers’ compensation attorneys can provide you with more information.
Certain Industries Have Higher Rates of Heat Injuries in the Summer
Heat injuries can affect both outdoor and indoor workers, especially in the summertime in South Florida. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the majority (between 50 percent and 70 percent) of outdoor heat-related injuries and illnesses occur within a worker’s first few days of employment in a hot environment “because the body needs to build a tolerance to heat gradually over time,” which is a process known as “heat acclimatization.” When a worker has not become acclimated to the heat, the likelihood of a heat injury increases significantly.
For outdoor workers, the following are some of the most common risk factors for a heat injury:
- Required physical activity;
- Lack of acclimatization;
- Work clothing that keeps body heat in; and
- Personal risk factors for a work injury.
The most common outdoor industries that see heat injuries in Florida’s summer months include:
- Construction, including road work and roofing;
- Mail and package delivery; and
- Oil and gas work.
You should know that indoor workers can also be at risk of heat injuries. While these injury risks often increase in Florida’s summer months due to poor indoor circulation with high outdoor temperatures, and lack of adequate air conditioning, indoor heat injuries can also be common during the winter. The indoor industries that most commonly see heat injuries include:
- Bakery and kitchen work;
- Electrical utility work in boiler rooms;
- Fire service workers;
- Iron and steel workers;
- Manufacturers in industries that require heat sources, such as concrete and paper manufacturing; and
How to Prevent Heat Injuries
There are many ways that heat injuries can be avoided in Florida’s hot season. Workers should never work long shifts outdoors in the summer heat until they have been acclimatized. Once workers are acclimatized, personal risks should be taken into account, and all workers should consume enough water and other fluids and should take frequent breaks. It is also critical for employers to train their workers in symptoms of heat illness so that workers can take action.
If a heat injury does occur, it is essential to report the injury to your employer within 30 days to remain eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Contact a West Palm Beach Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
When you need assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, you should get in touch with the West Palm Beach workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A. to find out more about how we can help with your application and can ensure that you do everything possible to obtain the benefits you need.