Many people dream of moving to Florida for the endless sunny days. However, during the summer, temperatures can quickly reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit and higher across the state.
While spending time on the beach is great during this type of weather, working outdoors (and in some indoor environments) is not only challenging, but it can also be downright dangerous.
When it comes to work-related injuries in Florida, most people don’t think about the heat. However, this is a serious concern. After all, Florida is ranked as the most humid state in the U.S. This, compared with high temperatures, makes the perfect recipe for heat-related illnesses and injuries.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have a work-caused, heat-related injury or illness, our team at Sternberg Forsythe, P.A. is ready to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Keep reading to learn more about the heat-related dangers in the state and your rights as a protected worker.
Heat Safety Hazards for Florida Workers
Heat-related illnesses may occur during recreational activities. While this is true, many of the reported cases occur in the work environment.
Some of the workers who are at risk for heat-related illnesses in Florida include:
- Construction workers
- Factory workers
- Warehouse workers
- Agricultural workers
Essentially, anyone who works outdoors or works in a building with poor ventilation is at risk for this type of illness or injury.
Unfortunately, regulating industries regarding heat and heat exposure is challenging. While this is true, OSHA has made a guide for employers.
OSHA’s Guide and Recommendations
OSHA has provided Florida employers with a guide to help prevent heat-related issues. It is called “Water. Rest. Shade.”
The goal of this campaign is to help protect workers from challenging or dangerous heat levels. In the guide, OSHA recommends that employers use the Heat Index provided by NOAA to determine when it is too hot to work.
Types of Work-Caused Heat-Related Illnesses and Injuries
If you are a Florida worker who must work in the heat, it’s important to know what illnesses and injuries you may experience. The most common include:
Heat cramps are extremely painful muscle spasms or cramps that you feel after exercise or sweat in high heat conditions.
Heat exhaustion occurs when you lose too much salt and water in extreme heat situations. During these periods, you experience excessive sweating and don’t replenish the salts and water you are losing.
Some of the symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
Other symptoms may also appear.
Heatstroke is considered the most serious heat-related illness you can have. It occurs when your body’s system has become overwhelmed because of excessive heat. If you don’t receive treatment quickly, it can become life-threatening.
Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Fever of 104 degrees or higher
- Dry skin
- Rapid heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
In severe situations, you may also experience seizures, a coma, and even death.
Do You Have a Personal Injury or Workers’ Compensation Case?
Workers’ compensation will cover most heat-related issues that occur while you are at work. The law requires that employers ensure employees remain safe from the potentially dangerous effects of exposure to heat and the sun.
Unfortunately, many employers will claim a worker with a heat-related illness had a pre-existing condition that caused the situation. The pre-existing condition may be something like a heart defect or obesity.
Usually, workers’ compensation will still provide benefits. However, if you find that your benefits are being denied, hiring an attorney is the next logical step.
Can You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Heat-Related Illnesses and Injuries Caused at Work?
The short answer to this question is – sometimes.
In some situations, you may be able to file a third-party lawsuit if someone other than your employer is at fault for your heat-related injury.
One example could be the provider of your personal protection equipment. If it was faulty or did not live up to expectations, the manufacturer may be liable for your injury or illness.
Another situation where you may file a personal injury lawsuit is if your employer acted intentionally. While it may be difficult to provide proof of this, it isn’t impossible.
Get Help with Your Work-Related Heat Injury or Illness Case
If you have experienced a heat-related injury or illness while at work, you need to hire a Florida workers’ compensation attorney or a personal injury attorney. At Sternberg Forsythe P.A., we can help with your case and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation by calling (561) 430-2124. Our team is here to help and just a phone call away.