As summer approaches, more and more North Carolina workers will be working in extremely hot conditions. Unfortunately, when it comes to occupational disease, employers may not grasp how dangerous heat exposure is.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, around 4,200 workers experienced illnesses due to the heat in 2011, which led to at least 40 deaths. There may be even more deaths caused by heat but they go unrecognized. According to a paper in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, between 1999 and 2003, 3,442 workers’ deaths were either attributed to extreme heat exposure or extreme heat exposure played a role in their death.

In order to raise awareness about heat-related illnesses and advise workers on methods to prevent illnesses such as heatstroke, OSHA’s 2012 Heat Illness Prevention Campaign began this month. OSHA’s assistant secretary has highlighted the resources available on their official website for both employers and workers working in heated conditions indoors or outdoors. The website also hosts industry-specific materials. Keeping up with technology, OSHA is also promoting a new Smartphone application available in both English and Spanish.

North Carolina employees who suffer from an illness in the course of their employment, heat-related or otherwise, may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. The compensation they receive may ease their financial burdens by making money available to cover their medical bills and other financial difficulties that may arise due to lost income as a result of their illness. To ensure their rights are protected during a physically and emotionally trying time, sick or injured workers should consider consulting an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Source: Occupational Health and Safety, “OSHA renews heat illness prevention campaign,” May 7, 2012