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OSHA warning: Summer could bring heat-related work illnesses

With summer just around the corner, more and more Ohio workers are preparing to work in the heat. Construction workers, contractors, farm laborers and others often work in extremely hot conditions during the summer months, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration is renewing efforts to warn workers about heat-related illnesses.

According to OSHA, about 4,200 workers experienced heat-related workplace injuries or illnesses last year. Forty people died from such illnesses, and OSHA believes there may have been more heat-related deaths that were not reported.

OSHA's 2012 Heat Illness Prevention Campaign launched this month. OSHA has resources available on its website to offer information to both employers and workers who work in warm conditions, indoors or outdoors. OSHA is also promoting a Smartphone application, available in both English and Spanish, which has information about staying safe in the heat.

In general, OSHA is urging that workers have access to and take advantage of water, frequent breaks and shade while working outdoors.

OSHA has said that those who are most at risk of developing a heat-related workplace illness are agriculture workers, construction workers, utility workers, baggage handlers, roofers and landscapers, among others who work outside.

Those who suffer from a workplace illness may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits in order to pay for medical expenses and compensate for lost wages, however, it is of course better to avoid experiencing a dangerous heat-related condition in the first place.

Source: Occupational Health and Safety, "OSHA renews heat illness prevention campaign," May 7, 2012

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