In the summer, working outdoors in Texas can be dangerous when temperatures soar to heights above 100 degrees. Workers who spend their days outside face the risk of heat-related stress and illness, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
While companies are responsible for protecting their workers, Texas does not regulate a company’s rules for dangerous heat situations. To keep you safe in dangerous weather, we’ve compiled some tips to help you avoid heat-related work injuries.
Heat Stroke and Workplace Laws: Know Your Rights
Extreme heat is one of the most dangerous weather conditions across the U.S., and Texas has the highest heat-related deaths related to work nationwide. Workplace temperature laws in Texas cover indoor, not external, work environments, and Texas lawmakers are actively repealing county and city rules that deal with mandated water and rest breaks for some professions.
While companies need to provide water and breaks, Texas workplace safety laws do not adequately cover the needs of the workers in this time of rising temperatures. This will predictably make it more difficult for workers to assert their rights and protect themselves from temperatures.
Obtaining worker’s comp for heat stroke can be difficult to navigate. While worker’s comp is available to workers who have experienced heat stroke, the hard part can be proving that your heat stroke was caused by your job rather than by something else. It’s recommended that if you experience heat stroke at work, call 911 — heat stroke is a medical emergency. You’ll want to document everything you experience so that there are records for when you file for worker’s comp. It can also be useful to have a trusted lawyer help you navigate Texas workplace safety laws and receive clarity on your situation.
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke
When working in dangerous heat, you want to be observant of yourself and your coworkers. Heat stroke is a serious condition that can lead to permanent damage or even death. Workers in high-stress jobs might not notice symptoms leading up to heat stroke. It’s incredibly important that you stay vigilant for the following signs and symptoms.
- An extreme headache
- Slurred speech
- Nausea or dizzy spells
- Skin that is red, damp, and hot
- If the person’s temperature is over 103 degrees
If you have any of these symptoms, immediately call 911 and notify someone to help you get to a cooler location. Air conditioning can help cool the body down and cool wet washcloths or wrapped ice packs.
Here are a few other tips to remember regarding heat stroke:
- Avoid giving water or other liquids to a person experiencing heat stroke, as the person may not be capable of swallowing.
- Someone should stay with the person experiencing heat stroke while someone else leads the EMTs to their location if they are not easy to find.
- If it’s nearing 100 degrees outside, do not use a fan to cool the person off, as that can actually increase the person’s body temperature.
When it comes to heat-related illnesses, knowing what to look for can save lives on the job.
Tips on How to Prevent Heat-Related Illness
OSHA has created a “Water Rest Shade” campaign to remind workers of the steps to take to keep themselves safer. Drinking water often and taking breaks regularly can help avoid heat-related injuries and fatalities. Some other habits that can help keep you safe include:
- Pace your work instead of rushing
- Monitor how you’re feeling throughout the day
- Wear a hat and sunscreen, which can help you regulate your body temperature
- Make sure you gradually adjust your body to working in the heat
When you’re on the job, it’s also important to take note of the signs leading up to heat stroke: Heat cramps and increased sweating can be the primary indication that heat exhaustion or heat stroke is right around the corner. Also watch for:
- Cool or clammy skin
- Dizziness, fatigue, or tiredness
- A quickened pulse
If you notice these symptoms in yourself or coworkers, there may still be time to stop heat stroke. Do the following:
- Move the person to the shade or a cooler location
- Give them sips of water — drinking large amounts of water quickly might cause harm or vomiting
- Monitor that person carefully; watch for changes in consciousness, body temperature, and vomiting
- Call 911 if the symptoms continue for over an hour
Stopping these illnesses before they take hold is essential, as research indicates that once you experience heat exhaustion or heat stroke, it can affect your health years, or even decades, later.
Contact Our Worker Injury Lawyers
The legal team at Pastrana & García Injury Law knows it can be difficult to advocate for yourself, especially when experiencing illness on a job site. That’s why we’re here to help you if you’ve experienced heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses at your work. Contact our law firm for help today.