We’re Havin’ a Heatwave
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is already in the planning stages for the next heatwave, usually occurring in late July or early August
. The new heat-protection policy, announced in October 2021, will highlight areas like heat-stress thresholds, heat-acclimatization planning, and exposure monitoring. Excessive heat is the leading weather-related cause of workplace injuries and fatalities, the agency noted.
In contrast, a New York personal injury attorney
aggressively protects health and safety from excessive heat exposure. This responsibility also includes protecting our friends and neighbors during the increasingly frequent heat waves.
Heatstroke usually happens when the body’s temperature exceeds 103. At that point, the sweat mechanism shuts down and body temperature rises even faster. Unless these individuals receive prompt emergency medical treatment, heatstroke is usually disabling or fatal.
is chronic exposure to high temperatures and, just as importantly, high humidity. When the air is humid, sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly, so the body doesn’t cool itself as well.
As a rule of thumb, if the heat index (temperature combined with humidity) is over 90 during a heat wave, heat exhaustion could be an issue. During a serious heat wave, the heat index could be above 90 by the time workers head to their jobs.
Protecting workers from heat-related illness is a bit like protecting workers from hearing loss. Usually, sudden, extremely loud noises don’t cause hearing loss. Instead, prolonged exposure to quieter noise is generally the problem. Likewise, extreme heat often isn’t a problem, even in outdoor work environments or un-air-conditioned indoor facilities. Instead, working in such areas daily could cause heat exhaustion.
Workers’ compensation typically covers heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and other heat-related illnesses caused by a heat wave. These no-fault benefits replace lost wages and pay medical bills.
Most of the time lost wage replacement is based on the worker’s Average Weekly Wage. There’s usually a difference between a worker’s average take-home pay and a worker’s AWW. For example, the AWW includes non-cash compensation, like employer-provided meals, while workers’ compensation pays “reasonably necessary” medical bills.
Since this phrase is vague, injured workers and insurance adjusters have different opinions as to what qualifies. Injured workers need the best available treatment, but insurance adjusters are usually only willing to pay for the cheapest available option.
If employers break the law and don’t have workers’ compensation insurance, a New York personal injury lawyer can typically file an injury claim in civil court. The same remedy is available in other situations. These victims are entitled to additional compensation for their emotional distress and other noneconomic losses.
Young children, older adults, and people with pre-existing conditions are most at risk for heat-related illnesses during a heatwave. Psychotropic drugs, diuretics, tranquilizers, and some medications for Parkinson’s Disease significantly increase
the chances of heat-related illness.
Spending time in an air-conditioned area is, by far, the best way to prevent such problems. Encourage these individuals to spend the afternoon at a public library or shopping mall. If you buy them a bottle of water while they’re there, that’s even better.
Furthermore, landowners have a legal duty to provide safe and secure environments. Safety and security include maintaining an internal and external temperature that may not be comfortable but at least isn’t hazardous.
Chances are, at least two or three at-risk individuals live in your building or neighborhood. We’re all very busy, but it only takes a few seconds to pick up the phone or knock on the door.
For more information about your rights as a tenant or worker, contact Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC