As a desert community, El Centro has long, extremely hot summers and mild winters that provide only a few months of relief. With more than 300 sunny days per year, workers who spend most of the day outdoors are at risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Employees who work in landscaping, construction, and agriculture are especially susceptible to heat-related illness and should take special precautions when temperatures are high and the job involves physical work.
If you experience any combination of the following symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, notify a supervisor and call 911 immediately:
Symptoms of heat exhaustion:
- A headache
- Muscle cramps
- Pale skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Heavy sweating
- Elevated body temperature
- Decreased urine output
Symptoms of heat stroke:
- Slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness
- Hot, dry skin (may stop sweating)
- Very high body temperature
- Clouded thinking
- Death, if not treated
How to prevent heat exhaustion injuries
The best course of action is to prevent the symptoms of heat-related illness before they happen. Strategies outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) include:
- Use a buddy system and monitor one another for symptoms
- Block out direct sunlight and other heat sources
- Drink water every 15 minutes even if you’re not thirsty
- Avoid drinking caffeinated and alcoholic beverages
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing
If someone does fall ill with heat exhaustion or heat stroke, move the worker to a shaded area, remove outer clothing, provide cool water, and have someone stay with the worker until help arrives.
Employers have a responsibility, too
In El Centro, it’s not unusual for the temperature to soar over 100 degrees in the heat of summer. While employees should know the symptoms of heat exhaustion injuries and take steps to prevent them, employers also have a responsibility to create a safe work environment. OSHA has published guidelines employers should follow to help workers avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke due to sun exposure. If your employer fails to provide adequate shade, regular water breaks, or employee training on heat illness prevention, you can anonymously report the violation to OSHA.
Have you suffered a heat exhaustion injury? Call a workers’ compensation lawyer
Even with the proper precautions, heat exhaustion injuries can happen. Sun exposure in extremely hot weather can lead to a headache, nausea, confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, and even death. If you or a loved one has suffered a heat-related illness caused by occupational exposure to high temperatures, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Eligible employees can file a workers’ compensation claim to receive payment for medical expenses and wage loss benefits in the wake of a heat exhaustion injury or death benefits following a fatality.
At the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates, we specialize in helping injured and ill workers in El Centro get the workers’ compensation benefits they rightfully deserve. Give us a call to schedule your free consultation at (619) 528-9800.