Summer is here, and temperatures in New York City are regularly reaching the 90s these days. For construction workers, landscapers and others whose jobs are done outside, the heat and humidity can mean plenty of work. But sweltering weather also means workers risk contracting a heat illness on the job.
The most serious types of heat illness
There are three common types of potentially serious heat illnesses, or hyperthermia, that can occur after long exposure to heat:
- Heat Cramps. These are muscle cramps caused by physical exertion in hot, humid conditions. Because you are sweating so much, your body loses fluids and electrolytes, which can lead to painful cramping.
- Heat Exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a body-wide reaction to overexposure to hot weather. Symptoms can include rapid, weak pulse, excessive sweating, nausea, lightheadedness and shortness of breath.
- Heatstroke. If heat exhaustion is left untreated, it can turn to heatstroke. Symptoms of heatstroke include a body temperature above 104 degrees, confusion, a rapid, strong pulse, slurred speech, vomiting and loss of consciousness.
Heatstroke is a potentially fatal condition that needs immediate treatment. Otherwise, things like regular breaks, drinking plenty of water and wearing loose clothing can help prevent cramps and heat exhaustion. If heat cramps or heat exhaustion do happen, get the victim out of the sun and into an air-conditioned room if possible.
Most New York companies that hire outdoor workers understand the dangers of heat sickness and take steps to prevent it. Still, heat exhaustion and heatstroke can strike. Then there are the employers that fail to take hot working conditions seriously, while the workers pay the price.
Don’t back down from a fight for your rightful workers’ compensation
If you contracted a heat illness on the job, you could be out of work for a significant time, and you could have suffered permanent damage to your health. You could be entitled to workers’ compensation, but getting approved can be difficult without an experienced attorney’s help.