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It's hot out there, is your employer keeping you safe?

Summertime in Georgia; whether you are climate change believer or denier, there is no denying that it's hot outside. That heat is bad enough for workers who toil outside day in and day out. If the humidity happens to rise on any given day, the potential for illness and injury due to hazardous working conditions only increases.

There are ways for outside workers to stave off the effects of heat stroke. Keeping three key words in mind is a good place to start. Those words are water, rest and shade. But did you know that providing those things isn't something you are responsible for? As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes, it's the employer's responsibility to maintain a safe work environment and water, rest and shade are basic necessities for preventing heat illness.

Heat stroke effects

One reason heat stroke is such a menace is because of the work ethic most of us have all grown up with. How often have you heard someone say, "Sure it's hot outside, but there's nothing we can do about it so just buck up. Sweat it out." However, the problem is that heat stress is like having a fever. If a person's core body temperature begins to rise higher than normal, the body's mechanisms for controlling things (like sweating) can fail.

The initial physical symptom might be heat cramps. It might be felt in the stomach. Arms and legs could start to feel rubbery or achy. The cause is depletion of salt and water due to dehydration.

The next, more serious signal that you've overdone things is heat exhaustion. Besides weakness and fatigue, signs of exhaustion include vomiting, heavy sweating while feeling cold and clammy. Some victims' faces may appear flushed. Others may appear pale. Regardless, this condition requires a trip to the emergency room.

Most serious of all is heat stroke. When this happens, the core body temperature can hit 106 degrees and more. Death can result without immediate medical care.

All of these conditions are ostensibly preventable. If illness or injury does occur, workers have a right to compensation. To obtain the full measure of benefits that may be due, work with an experienced attorney.

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Carrollton, GA 30117

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