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Workplace heat dangers

Oklahoma workers who are required to work in hot environments and may want to be aware of the Occupational Health and Safety worksheet suggestions for monitoring and treating the effects of heat. Primarily, it should be recognized that heat can be a dangerous factor in both an inside and outside work environment.

The most severe heat emergency is heat stroke. When a worker is showing signs of stroke with body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit and the victim is unconscious, confused and dizzy, 911 should be called immediately. First aid should be administered by moving the worker to a cool place and attempting to lower the body temperature by removing clothing and cooling the person with ice and water.

The next lower level of heat illness is heat exhaustion when the body temperature is above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not a medical emergency, and 911 does not have to be called unless the worker's condition worsens. Drinking water and staying calm in a cool place should bring the worker's body temperature back into normal range.

Heat cramps and heat rash are less alarming signs that the body uses to signal that its temperature needs to be lowered. As recommended by OSHA, every work location should have monitors who are trained to recognize symptoms of overheating in workers. Signs should be posted to remind employees and contractors what they should do if they experience the signs of overheating or how they can administer first aid if a coworker becomes overheated. Work schedules can be adjusted to accommodate workers so the most demanding work is done in the cooler parts of the day. As OSHA notes, heat stroke is just one of many types of workplace injuries and illnesses that can be very serious. An attorney can assist an affected worker in filing a claim for workers' compensation benefits to cover the costs of required medical care and treatment.

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