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When the heat hurts: Preventing heat exhaustion at work

While most Iowans head for the AC when the heat is on, construction workers must labor outside in conditions that can hit a whopping 110 degrees. Just look at the heat index from last summer.

Things are looking just as hot this summer. The Des Moines Register reports, "NASA scientists and others said that there's a good chance that this year will pass 2015 as the hottest year on record."

If you allow your body to overheat, you can suffer from various heat-related illnesses, including a fatal heat stroke. So what can construction workers do to stay safe under the beating rays this summer?

Water, rest and shade

Drinking water is the most important thing you can do to fight the heat. One rule of thumb: drink four cups of water every hour.

Moreover, taking frequent breaks from the heat will prevent the body from overheating. Strenuous tasks should be accomplished early in the morning or later in the shift when the sun is not overbearing. Seek shade for these breaks. If natural shade is not available, opt for portable shade, such tents or umbrellas.

Know the signs

Heat exhaustion is overpowering and can threaten your health. When you are at work under the heat, be cautious of these signs:

  • Dizziness, fainting or headaches
  • Wet skin and weakness
  • Confusion or irritability
  • Nausea, vomiting or thirst

The more egregious symptoms associated with heat stroke include:

  • Seizures
  • Collapsing
  • Fainting
  • Foggy thinking

Get help right away

If you suspect you are suffering from a heat-related illness at work, move to shade and remove outer clothing. A fan, mist, water and ice may help alleviate any symptoms. It also helps to drink cold water. More important, call a supervisor for help and seek immediate medical attention.

Generally, you can secure workers' compensation benefits for most work injuries, including heat-related illnesses. To qualify for benefits, the injury must be caused by or aggravated by your work responsibilities or the condition of your workplace. If the overwhelming circumstances of your sweltering work environment have compromised your health, speak to a lawyer about work injury benefits.

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Lawyer, Lawyer, Dutton & Drake, L.L.P.

Lawyer, Lawyer, Dutton & Drake, L.L.P.
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West Des Moines, IA 50265

Phone: 515-421-8825
Fax: 515-223-4121
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