Maryland and many other parts of the country are sweating under oppressive heat this summer, with Baltimore temperatures bumping up against 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the area heat index (a combination of heat and humidity) expected to reach as high as 110.
Extreme heat makes construction, landscaping, agriculture, and other outdoor work even more dangerous, as heat-related illness — which can lead to death — can overtake the body quickly. Maryland recently reported its first heat-related death of 2023; in last year’s extreme heat, our state saw five heat-related deaths.
As Maryland Workers’ Compensation lawyers, we’re concerned about the safety and well-being of all our state’s workers. Let’s take a look at what the Maryland Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) want employers and workers to know about avoiding heat illness this summer.
According to the Maryland Dept. of Health, “Extreme heat can lead to serious health issues. Exposure to heat may lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and even death.” The body sweats to cool itself; however, heat illness occurs when heat and moisture in the air prevent sweat from evaporating fast enough to cool the body. Victims can feel nauseous, clammy, light-headed, and fatigued. Heat cramps and heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke — the most serious form of heat-related illness — where body temperatures can reach 106 degrees or higher.
OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention website (see “Sources” below) offers resources for employers and employees. Employers are responsible for protecting workers from heat illness and are encouraged to understand heat hazards and plan ahead for extreme temperatures. They can determine the risk for heat-related illness and whether strenuous work may be unsafe.
In addition, OSHA states that workers should know about their rights to heat safety and should voice their concerns about potential heat-related hazards without fear of retaliation. They also recommend regular hydration, wearing a hat and loose-fitting, light clothing (where appropriate), taking rest breaks in the shade, and watching out for each other. See link to the OSHA website below for detailed information for both employers and employees.
Please take care this summer at work and at home, as the heat makes everything more challenging. If you need assistance with a Maryland Workers’ Compensation claim or case, please contact us for a free evaluation. Stay safe out there!
Maryland weather: Baltimore heat index could reach 110 Friday
The Baltimore Sun July 28, 2023
Maryland Department of Health announces first reported heat-related death of 2023
Maryland.gov July 13, 2023
Maryland Department of Health : Resources: Extreme Heat
Maryland.gov collected online July 30, 2023
OSHA – Heat Illness Prevention
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) collected online July 30, 2023