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Construction workers at risk for heat-related illness or death

Pennsylvania construction companies stay busy with building projects during the summer. High temperatures and hard work, however, raise the risks of illness or death for construction workers. A representative from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said that construction workers account for over 40% of heat-related deaths on the job. OSHA has established rules for all types of workers who are exposed to high temperatures indoors or outdoors. These safety regulations become especially important in the summer when heat and humidity create conditions that can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke. People who perform heavy labor or have to wear bulky protective clothing face additional risk for heat-related illness or death.

Temporary workers, new employees or workers returning from a long vacation sometimes succumb to the heat more easily because they lack tolerance to the hot conditions. In the interest of safety, workers who have not acclimated to hot conditions should have their duties ramped up slowly. They will need additional breaks as well.

All workers need access to adequate water and rest periods in the shade. Employers also have a duty to train workers about the threat of heat exhaustion and inform them about the symptoms. Knowledge of the threat increases workers' ability to realize when they are being overcome by the heat.

A person who falls ill at work or suffers an injury might need immediate medical attention and time off to recover. Workers' compensation benefits could cover some of these expenses, but an employer or insurer might want to limit payouts. Someone employed by a subcontractor or temporary agency could have trouble figuring out who is even responsible for providing the coverage. A consultation with an attorney could clear up these questions. An attorney could also prepare the claim paperwork or challenge a denial of benefits.

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