Heat Stroke at Work – Can I Seek Workers’ Compensation?

Heat Stroke at Work – Can I Seek Workers’ Compensation?

July 6, 2022Workers' Compensation

Working in the heat is often overlooked as a potential danger in the workplace. However, the heat can cause serious illnesses, injuries, or even death. If you suffered heat stroke on the job, you may qualify for workers’ compensation as long as you can prove the illness was a result of your work.

What is Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke is the most severe type of heat injury and requires immediate medical attention. It occurs due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures causing the body’s core temperature to go higher than 104 F, leading to failure of the temperature control system. It often happens in combination with dehydration or progresses from milder heat-related illnesses such as cramps, exhaustion, or fainting. However, heat stroke can occur suddenly without warning. Fainting is often the first sign, but other common symptoms include:

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

If left untreated, heat stroke can lead to organ failure, coma, or death.

Workers’ Compensation for Heat Stroke

Labor laws are in place to prevent employees from heat-related injuries, and employers have a legal duty to provide a safe and healthy work environment at all times. Employees who suffer heat stroke while working has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for medical expenses sustained due to their injury, lost wages from missed time at work, and other damages. When a worker does file a workers’ compensation claim, employers are prohibited from retaliating.

However, you must be able to prove the heat stroke was caused by your job. In other words, your workers’ compensation claim for heat stroke will get denied if you ran a marathon in the morning and then went to work in an office with air conditioning. As a result, it is critical to seek medical attention immediately. Medical records can help you demonstrate the cause of your heat illness and how it is linked to your job.

Employer Responsibilities

Illness from heat exposure is preventable in the workplace. When temperatures are expected to be dangerous, employers must take steps to protect employees. For example:

  • Training supervisors and workers to prevent, recognize, and treat heat-related illness
  • Providing access to fresh water and encouraging proper hydration.
  • Mandating regular rest breaks
  • Ensuring access to shade or cool areas
  • Monitoring workers during hot conditions
  • Providing prompt medical attention to workers who show any signs of heat-related illness
  • Continually evaluating work practices to reduce exertion and environmental heat stress
  • Monitoring weather reports daily and rescheduling jobs with high heat exposure to cooler times of the day

Employees should also be proactive in safeguarding their health by ensuring they drink plenty of fluid, wear loose-fitting cool clothing, take frequent breaks, and remain aware of any initial signs of heat stroke.

Call us today to speak with a St. Louis workplace accident lawyer.

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