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Workplace illness: Several workers hospitalized for heat illness

California workers -- especially those working outside -- are extremely vulnerable during the summer months. Heat illness can be fatal, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that one worker has already lost his life to this workplace illness this year. The agency urges workers to keep a lookout for symptoms of heat illness in fellow workers.

Officials in another state reported that five workers had to be rushed to hospitals within a recent week. Employees of certain industries, such as roofing companies, are exposed to scorching heat, and failure to take precautions can have devastating consequences. An application that will detect and calculate the heat index at a worksite was created by OSHA. The app will indicate the level of humidity and heat along with potential safety risks.

Employers are responsible for the safety of all workers, and they must monitor working conditions and workers for any symptoms of heat illness. One employer says a warning sign is extreme perspiration that is followed by goosebumps. Excessive thirst, fatigue and dizziness are also indications of heat exhaustion. Regular fluid intake of water or energy drinks to replace electrolytes is vital. Frequent rest periods in cool, shady areas and protective clothing will also help to prevent heat illness.

Hospitalization for any workplace illness can be costly, and if it leads to time off work, the financial implications can be distressing. Fortunately, affected workers are entitled to pursue compensation. They are entitled to file benefit claims with the California workers' compensation insurance fund that typically includes coverage of medical expenses and a level of lost income compensation.

Source: ktbs.com, "Five workers hospitalized in Arkansas due to heat-related illnes", Julie Parr, Aug. 6, 2015

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