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Tip for outdoor workers: hydrate to avoid heat-related illness

North Carolina residents may remember reading our blog post back in May detailing the possibility of workplace illnesses caused by heat exposure. Now, as many North Carolina workers seek refuge from the high temperatures in air-conditioned buildings, safety and city personnel among other workers are continuing to work in the sweltering sun.

As far as occupational diseases go, working in the sun in heavy clothing--such as a police officer's heavy uniform or a construction worker's protective gear--adds a risk for heat-related illnesses that may not exist otherwise. The dark coloring and weight of the police vest and gear, for example, can add up to 15 pounds of extra weight.

One way for employers to rein in on heat exposure is to keep rotating shifts and ensure workers have time to hydrate and rehabilitate before going back out in the heat. Some police departments in other states claim that they rotate their police officers every half hour or so, especially if they are on traffic control.

Additionally, easy access to water, by providing a cooler, can ensure workers stay hydrated while on the job.

Even with proper hydration and shift rotation, North Carolina employees can still contract a workplace illness in the scope of their employment. Workers should report their illnesses to their employers in writing within 30 days of an illness or accident, however they should not hesitate to report an illness if more than 30 days have passed. Employees suffering from a work-related illness may be able to file a workers' compensation claim to recover expenses for their treatment and any lost wages.

Source: The Marion Star, "Outdoor workers keep cool," Tabitha Clark, July 4, 2012

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