Many workers in America, especially in warm areas such as Houston, Dallas or San Antonio, Texas, suffer heat stress injuries in the workplace. Such injuries may be the responsibility of a negligent employer and may merit a personal injury lawsuit.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, or TDI, around 175 Americans die from heat each year — or more people than die from lightning strikes, hurricanes, floods or tornadoes.
Heat stress can take many forms, including heat stroke, in which a person’s body temperature rises above 104 degrees as a result of environmental heat exposure and the body’s lack of proper thermoregulation. Victims can suffer dizziness, a rapid pulse and dry skin.
Heat stress also can be manifested as heat cramps, or muscle pains during strong physical exertion in hot weather, such as at an outdoor construction site in summer months. Or it can be heat exhaustion, in which a victim has a weak but rapid pulse, rapid breathing and severe perspiration.
Victims also can suffer heat rash (irritated skin due to severe perspiration), heat tetany (muscle spasms, tingling, hyperventilation or numbness in intense heat) and heat syncope, or fainting.
These injuries occur when the body becomes so overheated that perspiring, or sweating, which normally helps cool the body, isn’t enough to overcome the body’s rising heat.
Heat stress symptoms depend on the nature of the injury. When it comes to heat stroke — the most severe heat stress — common symptoms include a rapidly rising bodily temperature reaching such extremes as 106 degrees.
Victims also may exhibit:
Heat cramp symptoms from dehydration and excessive perspiring can be painful spasms or cramps in the arms, legs, stomach and back. These may persist until the body’s salt and fluids are replenished.
The heat injuries of construction workers even can be fatal. In August of 2015, a construction worker on a residential building in the Dallas area died from heat stroke. Dead was Roendy Granillo, 25, who was working in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees.
Indeed, OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, reports that dozens of workers die yearly due to heat problems.
These can be a result of strenuous physical labor in hot weather, or perhaps physical contact with hot objects or other radiant heat sources. High humidity also can contribute.
Occupations in which workers may fall victim to heat stress or stroke include bakeries, laundries, steel and iron foundries, ceramic and brick-firing plants, commercial kitchens, smelters, mines and glass-making facilities.
Workers who are likely to be outdoors during their labor include those in construction, removing asbestos, gas or oil well drilling or operations, farm work, landscaping, surveying, hazardous waste site work and emergency response activities.
By federal law, OSHA requires that employers provide employees with a safe workplace. An overheated workplace is against federal law, and victims have a right to seek economic recovery for their heat stress injury.
OSHA advises that heat injuries and deaths can be prevented by reducing heat exposure by means of alternating cycles of work and rest, providing ample drinking water, providing ventilation or air conditioning to cool off the workplace and giving employees a chance to build a tolerance to heat.
Victims of heat injury on the job due to an employer’s negligence can seek economic compensation by means of a personal injury lawsuit or a workers compensation insurance claim.
Keep in mind that employers in Texas are not required to have workers compensation insurance. If an employer does carry this coverage, there are legal limits on the amounts of recovery that workers can receive.
When economic recovery is issued, it can come in the form of payments for any lost wages due to missing work after a heat-related injury, as well as payments for medical costs.
Notify the work injury lawyers at Jim Adler & Associates today for your free legal review of your case. You may be legally entitled to substantial financial compensation.