Outdoor worker safety considerations for summer

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

The summer months are often ideal for many different kinds of jobs that have to be done outside, especially in Minnesota, where winters are frigid and snowy. However, because of the outdoor conditions during the summer, it’s critical that employers take steps to mitigate potential hazards for workers.

Summer temperatures typically range from 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Minnesota, although they can climb much higher. This isn’t as hot – on average – as some areas of the country, but safety must still be a priority. Heat can magnify in certain conditions, such as on blacktops and in direct sunlight.

The hazards of summer outdoor work in Minnesota

The primary concern for outdoor workers in summer revolves around heat-related illnesses. These encompass a range of conditions from mild heat rash and heat cramps to more severe cases like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke, the most severe form of heat illness, is a medical emergency that can result in death if it’s not promptly treated. It occurs when the body’s temperature regulation fails, leading to a rapid rise in core body temperature. Symptoms include confusion, seizures and loss of consciousness.

Injuries beyond heat illnesses

Beyond heat-related conditions, summer outdoor work in Minnesota poses additional risks. Intense sun exposure can lead to sunburns, significantly increasing the risk of skin cancer over the long term. Dehydration and sunstroke are common, especially in jobs requiring physical labor under direct sunlight, such as construction or landscaping. Workers in these sectors are also at an increased risk for injuries due to dizziness or fainting spells caused by heat exhaustion, leading to falls or accidents with machinery.

Understanding impacts on workers’ health

In addition to acute concerns, the long-term impact of repeated exposure to summer heat can be profound, with workers potentially facing chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular problems and exacerbated respiratory issues. The cumulative effect of dehydration and overexertion in high temperatures can lead to serious health conditions.

Workers who suffer any of these conditions should seek immediate medical treatment. Workers’ compensation will likely cover their care, but some workers may have to fight to receive the full scope of benefits they’re due. Legal assistance is often beneficial in these cases so workers understand their rights and have someone to advocate in informed ways on their behalf.

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