Labor Department reminds workers about the risks of heat illness

With summer upon us, residents of Chicago and Cook County, Illinois, are constantly feeling the oppressive heat. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s online site, the dry, hot weather raises the risk of fires. This weather raises another issue that residents and workers need to be cautious of: heat illness.

The DOL has stated that the combination of the summer heat and humidity greatly increases the possibility of heat illness. Workers, especially the ones who wear bulky protective gear, such as in the construction industry, are the most vulnerable. While most people think that heat illness is just a matter of being uncomfortable and sweaty, the DOL views it as a life-and-death concern. Heat illness can manifest in many forms, from heat cramps and rashes to the more fatal heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The DOL advises residents and workers to follow three best practices to avoid heat illness: rest, water and shade.

As the old adage says “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”; being aware and prepared for the possible dangers can prevent Chicago work-related deaths, as well as injuries. Nonetheless, it is not only the workers who need to adjust to conditions. Companies should also be proactive in ensuring that their employees are provided with the necessary protection for their particular work environment.

Chicago and Cook County, Illinois, workers who are injured due to construction accidents, dangerous tools, lack of protective gear and hazardous work conditions may seek the workers’ compensation under appropriate circumstances. Eligibility for workers compensation can provide the victim or the victim’s family with compensation for the accident. If a worker loses his or her life in a workplace accident, the victim’s family also may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit to help pay for expenses related to the victim’s death.

Source: Greensburg Daily News, “Beat the Heat: beware of hot weather dangers,” Randy Frye, July 11, 2013