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In summer, many workers are vulnerable to heat illness

Today is the first day of July. Though it is still early summer, many parts of the country have already experienced intense heat waves. Those places that have not yet felt the full blast of summer soon will.

People who spend most of their days indoors may not think about it, but the sun can make you sick. Many jobs, such as construction or agricultural work, require workers to spend their time outside. Without proper and reasonable precautions, like sufficient rest breaks and access to water, heat illnesses can occur.

The first stage of heat illness is called heat cramps. As the National Institutes of Health explains, symptoms of heat cramps include:

  • Cramping and pain, usually in the legs or abdomen
  • Heavy sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Thirst

Besides being unpleasant on its own, heat cramps are a warning sign that heat exhaustion could be coming. This second level of heat illness can cause:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cool, moist skin
  • Dark urine

The final phase of heat illness is heatstroke, which is very serious and potentially fatal. Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Fever above 104 degrees
  • Irrational behavior
  • Extreme confusion
  • Dry, hot and red skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Heat illness usually can be prevented with precautions, like the breaks and fluids mentioned above, plus avoiding heavy physical activity during especially hot weather. However, heat exhaustion and heatstroke can still occur. Even when the victim survives, he or she may need to take a long time to recover.

We hope all our readers stay safe on the job this summer. But if a workplace accident, illness or injury happens, they may qualify for workers' compensation to help pay the resulting costs.

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The Bainbridge Firm, LLC

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