Rios Law Firm PLLC

Heatwave conditions threaten health of landscapers and others

Record-breaking temperatures across the western United States during the recent heatwave put the lives of many outdoor workers at risk, including Arizona. Landscapers are particularly vulnerable because of the nature of their work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides guidelines to help employers to ensure that outdoor workers are protected. The agency's message is based on three words -- water, rest and shade.

Thousands of workers suffer heat-related illnesses each year, and some do not survive. Most vulnerable are those who work in extreme humidity and heat. Excessive exposure can affect all workers, regardless of physical condition or age. Those whose occupations keep them out in the sun for extended periods must take particular care. Under OSHA law, the burden to protect workers from heat-related hazards is on the shoulders of employers.

Employers must provide adequate water, rest and shade, and they must allow workers to acclimatize to working in excessive heat. A heat illness prevention program must be in place, and workers must be familiar with potential hazards. Safety training must include emergency procedures, and workers must learn how to monitor their co-workers for signs of heat exhaustion or illness.

The Arizona workers' compensation insurance program covers heat-related illnesses in landscapers and other outdoor workers. Heat illness can lead to mounting doctors' bills and lost wages, jeopardizing the victim's financial stability. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can assist throughout the claims process. In severe cases that lead to death, the surviving family members can claim death benefits to help them cope with end-of-life expenses and other financial obligations.

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