Workers in North Carolina are exposed to all kinds of on-the-job dangers, including things like heavy machinery, poor lighting and even violent customers. However, few people realize that one of the biggest risks to worker health has been on the rise for years now — the temperature. Extreme heat can cause severe work injuries in a relatively short period of time, too.
Who is at risk for extreme heat exposure?
Individuals who work in well insulated and air-conditioned buildings are generally not at risk for heat related injuries. Instead, extreme heat is more likely to endanger those who primarily work outside or who have limited access to cool interior environments. This includes:
- Agricultural workers
- Construction workers
- Utility workers
- Factory workers
- Military members
- Wildfire crews
Extreme heat is dangerous
Experts caution that a single episode of severe heat exposure can cause permanent harm to internal organs. At least one study has even linked hospitalizations for acute heat illnesses with increased risks of early death. Workers who are exposed to extreme heat are also more likely to be involved in workplace accidents the following day. High temperatures are also more likely to pose a serious threat when other environmental factors are present, such as humidity or high ozone levels.
Everyone in North Carolina deserves a safe workplace free from unnecessary risks. Unfortunately, men and women who work outside or in hot inside environments are rarely afforded protection from the heat. When high temperatures lead to work injuries, victims may need to pursue workers’ compensation benefits to help address things like lost wages and medical bills.