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Understand your rights after a heat-related illness

One thing that workers have to watch out for in the summer months is the potential for heat stroke. The sun is hot, the weather can be humid and in combination with hard work, people can get very sick.

It's important for California employers to be aware of the risks to their employees in these hot temperatures. In fact, if people fall ill, then it's likely that they're going to be able to file for workers' compensation.

Most workplace injuries are covered by workers' compensation

Most workplace injuries are covered by workers' compensation. To be considered as a workplace injury, the injury has to occur during work or as a result of work-related duties or conditions of the work environment.

To obtain workers' compensation for heat-related illnesses or heat stroke, you'll have to prove that the work you were doing in the heat caused your injuries. This is relatively easy to do on hot days, since working outside in hot weather could be directly linked to heat stroke.

Sometimes, workers suffer from other injuries, like heat-related heart attacks or severe dehydration. Your employer might try to argue that you had preexisting conditions that caused the illness you came down with, but if your work aggravated the condition, then you will be able to file and be awarded workers' compensation.

How can you help prevent workplace injuries linked to heat?

There are a few tips that can help you avoid workplace injuries due to heat. First, your employer should talk to you about heat exposure safety and implement procedures in the workplace to prevent workers from becoming overheated. For example, they may require water breaks every 15 minutes to prevent dehydration.

Did you know that employers are required to provide you with enough water to keep you hydrated? Federal OSHA recommendations state that employees should drink a quart of water per hour and be encouraged to take breaks each hour to get that water.

If an employee shows signs of heat stroke or a heat-related illness, then employers should remove them from duty and make sure they are led to an area with shade, water or other means to reduce their body temperature and prevent further illness. In severe cases, employers should call 911 and have emergency care come to the scene to help the employee recover.

If you are not given help when you need it or are injured in a heat-related incident, you can pursue workers' compensation in the future.

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