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OSHA construction site stand down promotes heat illness awareness

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is planning to raise awareness of heat-related illnesses for Georgia construction workers. Heat-illness is a significant issue. Workplace safety officials say that workers who are exposed to heat on the job, especially when heat is combined with humidity, can suffer heat-stroke from work-related conditions.

Construction workers and employees in many other industries in Georgia can be exposed to heat and humidity. OSHA says that workers may experience heat exhaustion, which if not addressed properly and promptly, can lead to serious heat-related illnesses.

OSHA estimates that about thirty workers have died each year from heat-stroke since 2003, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The U.S. Department of Labor says that thousands of workers suffer work-related heat illnesses across the country.

Heat-related illnesses occurring in the workplace have been a concern for work safety experts for many years. OSHA says that a planned stand-down at construction sites all over the southeast—including in Georgia and in neighboring states--is on tap for early June 4. Workers will go through heat-illness safety training during the voluntary one hour stand-down between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m.

In addition to the natural elements, many workers must wear bulky safety equipment, which may add to heat-stress during the summer months.

Water, rest and shade are important ideas to help prevent heat-related illnesses, according to OSHA. The U.S. Department of Labor began holding an annual national campaign to raise awareness of heat-illness last year.

Many workers may be aware that Georgia's workers’ compensation laws are in place to provide injured workers with benefits after a work-related accident. However, the important benefits are available for a broad range of medical issues beyond those that arise in a workplace accident. Occupational illnesses and diseases are among those areas that many workers may overlook when suffering from a condition related to the job.

Environmental issues such as bad air may lead to a work-related respiratory issue. Similarly, if a worker experiences a heat-related illness on the job, the worker may be entitled to benefits. A Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer can help to assess an individual situation and help to explain the workers’ compensation system.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Safety training to highlight heat-related injuries," The Associated Press, May 30, 2013

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