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Outdoor Workers Face Increased Health Risks

Posted On March 29, 2017

In Illinois, extreme temperatures have a big impact on health risks and injuries for outdoor workers. A Chicago work injury lawyer often handles workers’ compensation claims for heat and cold-related injuries for outdoor workers.

OSHA Safety

According to the U.S. Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employees who work outdoors for prolonged periods of time are at increased risks for injuries due to extreme heat and cold. Each year, over 4,000 workers experience serious illness, and some die from temperature-related injuries.

Heat-Related Health Risks and Injuries

Prolonged work in very hot environments can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, breakdown of muscle tissue, and even death. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that heat has been linked to increased risks for traumatic injuries, especially in workers who are older, overweight, physically unfit, or on certain medications. Common health risks and injuries from excessive heat include:

  • Heat Exhaustion – Heat exhaustion can occur when the body loses too much water and salt. Symptoms include dizziness and weakness and can lead to heat stroke.
  • Heat Stroke – Heat stroke can lead to permanent disability and death. It’s the most serious heat-related injury seen by a Chicago work injury lawyer for outdoor workers.
  • RhabdomyolysisProlonged physical exertion in high temperatures can result in the rapid breakdown and death of muscle tissue, causing irregular heartbeats, seizures, and kidney damage.

Cold-Related Health Risks and Injuries

Illinois workers who are exposed to extreme cold for prolonged periods often suffer cold-related illnesses and injuries. When the proper protection is not taken, dangerous conditions can occur quickly. There are three major factors that impact cold-related health risks and injuries:

  • Wetness/Dampness – Outdoor workers who are exposed to long periods of rain, body sweat, and damp air can experience a rapid drop in body temperature. Hypothermia can occur in cool temperatures, even above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wind Chill – Wind speed combined with cold air can create wind chill, leading to body temperature dangers, especially for workers suffering from exhaustion or poor health. Cold temperatures force the body to work harder to maintain body heat. This extra exertion can lead to circulatory problems and heart problems.

OSHA advises outdoor workers who are exposed to prolonged cold in their jobs to drink lots of warm liquids, avoid alcoholic beverages, maintain healthy diets, wear multiple layers of clothing, and take frequent breaks to warm up.

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