For the past few months, people in Illinois and across the country have been focused on cold weather and keeping the roadways clear for safe travel. Now that spring is on the horizon, more employers will likely be concerned about keeping their workers cool enough during the summer, especially when working in an area that has poor air circulation. Workers who are injured or become ill as a result of high temperatures might qualify for workers' compensation benefits.
The effects of excessive heat can be dangerous, possibly even fatal. In addition to slowing worker productivity, many workers have been the victim of a variety of heat-related illnesses. While there are several different possible consequences of working in the heat -- from heat rash to heat exhaustion -- perhaps the most dangerous is heat stroke. This is caused when the body becomes unable to regulate its temperature, resulting in overheating. Immediate hospitalization is necessary.
Warehouses are especially susceptible to high temperatures because they are typically larger and harder to cool. Additionally, large doors might be opened and closed frequently, reducing the effectiveness of a cooling system. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has no regulations in place governing workplace temperature, it recommends maintaining a temperature of between 68 and 76 degrees. Employers can help do this in large open areas by installing fabric curtains to reduce the area requiring cooling or installing high-volume, low-speed fans.
Unfortunately, workers often fall victim to high temperatures during the summer. Heat stroke, for example, could result in a lengthy hospital stay or a fatality. Workers and their families could easily become overwhelmed by the burden of hospital bills and lost wages. Fortunately, because Illinois requires employers to provide workers' compensation benefits for its employees, they may be able to receive some relief. Many injured workers -- or grieving family members in the event of a fatality -- have turned to an experienced professional to help guide them through the compensation process.
Source: ohsonline.com, "Reducing Heat Stress with HVLS Fans -- Occupational Health & Safety", Dan Anderson, March 1, 2015