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Today's hot topic: Heat and construction injury claims

As California moves into summer, the concern over heat-related illnesses take center stage. Employers are required to provide workers with the means to prevent such illnesses, but sometimes it just is not enough. However, employers might be able to spare many employees from getting overheated and also lower the number of construction injury claims related thereto.

Employers are required to provide workers with adequate cool water, shade and annual training relating to preventing heat-borne illnesses. Written policies should also be available outlining an employer's program. Employers must also consider the changes that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health made to its heat-related illness program in 2015.

For example, when working construction, the job could be either indoors or outdoors. The changes in Cal/OSHA's policies make some structures subject to heat-related policies. This is an improvement for construction workers who are indoors in buildings that still reach high temperatures since they are under construction and might not provide adequate shelter from the heat. Workers also need to be monitored more closely when temperatures reach or exceed 95 degrees. In addition, Cal/OSHA has stepped up its inspections during the summer months to ensure the regulations are followed.

Even when an employer takes the appropriate steps to protect its workers, heat-related illnesses can still occur. These illnesses can be life-threatening, and could result in an extended recovery and time off work. A worker might need to file a construction injury claim to receive workers' compensation benefits under these circumstances. Having an advocate to assist and advise a worker could relieve stress and allow him or her to focus on recovery.

Source: safety.blr.com, "California is heating up: Essential heat illness info for employers", April 28, 2017

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