If you're employed at a restaurant or landscaping company, you are not only in danger of regular workplace injuries like slips and falls, but you are also at risk for heat related injuries like heat stroke that can affect your ability to do your job. In order to protect yourself at your job and make sure that you are properly compensated if you experience this type of injury at work, there are a few things you should know about your employer's and your own responsibilities about preventing heat-related injury in the work place.
1. Employers should acknowledge and provide training for heat related problems.
Working in the sun or in a similar high-heat environment comes with risks. You employers are responsible to inform employees of this risk and provide training to help them avoid injuries. For example, your employer should:
- bring up the possibility of heat related problems during staff training,
- advise employees about hot weather in the forecast and how work practices will be altered during warm periods,
- allow for reasonable accommodation to avoid injury, such as encouraging water breaks and reducing labor output during hot weather.
- educate employees about the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and have at least one member trained in first aid response.
If the risk of heat related injury on the job is high, but your employer does little or nothing to acknowledge and prepare for the problem, you will have stronger case for higher compensation from your employer. Be sure you follow company mandated rules, such as breaks and training meetings, because if you don't participate, it could jeopardize your ability to get compensation for injury.
2. It's up to you to report unsafe working conditions to your employer.
If you work outdoors, but your boss spends most of the time in the office, they might not be aware of worksite dangers as much as those who are working on the ground. If you find that breaks are not long enough or that the required output for the day is causing heat stress on employees, you should report it to a supervisor. This will help to strengthen your worker's compensation case if you do sustain an injury, because it will make certain that the boss was aware of the unsafe working environment and did not make provisions to protect employees by offering longer breaks, shade, or refreshment.
3. Report worksite incidents right when they occur.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency, and so you probably won't have the time or capacity to file it the minute after it happens, but as soon as you are able, write down the details about your injury, including the temperature of the day, what you were doing while on the job, and what you had done to follow company-mandated safety precautions. File the report with the company you work for as soon as you can. This helps to validate your injury, because waiting to file can throw suspicion onto when the injury actually occurred and whether or not your employment was the route cause of the injury. Filing immediately is especially important for non-specific injuries, like heat exhaustion or stroke, because unlike a broken leg, the condition remedies itself quickly and can be hard to diagnose or recognize after the fact. If you do not file your claim with your employer within 30 days, you could lose any chance of getting compensation for money lost through time off and medical attention.
Heat injuries are just as serious as injuries that produce blood or broken bones-- heat stroke can be deadly if it is not treated immediately. If your employers were negligent about preventing heat illness in the workplace, talk to a worker's compensation firm like The Law Offices of Gregg Durlofsky about your legal options.