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What rights do employees have to avoid heat stroke while at work?

Heat-related injuries or illnesses may result from working outdoors during high temperatures. The National Safety Council notes that individuals with chronic medical conditions have higher risks of becoming ill from heat exposure. Workers over age 65 or with excess body weight also face a greater risk of developing serious illnesses.

If you begin experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion while working, you may take a break to avoid heat stroke. Employees may ask for shorter work schedules or to limit the time spent outdoors on days with extreme temperatures.

California requires employers to protect outdoor workers from heat

The State of California Department of Industrial Relations website notes that employers must take action to protect their workers from heat-related illnesses. Employers have the responsibility of supervising workers and providing them with shade to cool down. Employees have a right to cool-down breaks for a minimum of five minutes per hour.

If you begin to feel sick from excessive heat while working, your employer may not prevent you from taking a needed break. Your employer must also provide fresh drinking water and encourage you to take water breaks. The Golden State’s labor laws require employers to provide workers with drinking water in an amount not less than one quart per hour.

Safety training could help avoid on-the-job heat injuries

California law requires employers to train employees on how to prevent heatstroke. As noted on the Golden State’s DIR website, employees working in high heat-risk industries such as construction, landscaping or agriculture may require specialized safety training.

The first signs of heat exhaustion could include fatigue, muscle cramps or nausea. If you feel dizzy or have a temperature above 103 degrees, you may need immediate medical attention.

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