Injured at work: Heat exposure dangerous even after June
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently issued a reminder that employers nationwide, including in Colorado, should not lose sight of the hazards of environmental heat exposure even though summer is winding down. Heat illness can occur at any time, and of all reports about employees being injured at work during this time, a significant percentage involved heat exposure. The same goes for on-the-job fatalities.
In an Aug. 30 publication, BLS listed the number of 2015 injuries and deaths caused by environmental heat exposure. There were 2,867 heat-related occupational illnesses and injuries in that year, of which 37 resulted in deaths. The reason for their warning, though, is the fact that 33 of those deaths reportedly occurred between June and September.
Further data showed that a significant number of the nonfatal illnesses and injuries were suffered by employees in material moving and transportation. The “Water. Rest. Shade.” campaign of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration continues to offer tips for employees and employers about the dangers of heat exposure. The primary safety measures include drinking water at 15-minute intervals, taking frequent breaks in cool areas, wearing light clothing and a hat, and constant monitoring of workers.
Most Colorado workers who are injured at work can file claims for workers’ compensation benefits. After reporting the injury or illness to the employer, a claim form can be filled out for the employer to submit to the workers’ compensation insurance program. Medical expenses are typically paid immediately, while any claim for compensation for lost wages will be considered if the injury caused temporary disability. If approved, wage replacement benefits will follow shortly.