With warm weather approaching fast, workers in Scranton face the risk of heat-related injuries. An experienced workers' compensation lawyer knows that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have a heat stress standard. This means employers and employees need to make sure they are creating their own plans for addressing safety when working on warm weather days. Any workers who perform labor outside need to be aware of the potential to overheat, and employers need to ensure they have policies in place to protect their employees from being harmed by heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.
Risks of Heat-Related Injuries for Workers This Summer Season
Safety News Alert warns employers can still face fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a failure to have a heat stress plan in place even though there is no specific heat-stress standard under federal law.
In one recent case, OSHA inspectors issued two fines and citations, with the fines totaling $8,820. The citations alleged the employer had not adequately implemented a heat illness prevention program. This was considered a violation of the General Duty Clause. The other citation was issued because the employer had not provided sufficient training to employees regarding heat-related hazards. This was considered a violation of a construction requirement mandating that employers instruct all employees in the "recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions." The company appealed but an OSHA administrative law judge found that the penalties and citations were justified.
The case arose out of an incident in which workers from a temp agency were replacing the roof of a bank building. A 60-year-old temp worker who was new to the company had been working for three years in an indoor air conditioned environment. The worker indicated to the foreman that he had roofing experience, but the foreman did not ask about the experience or make further inquiry.
The temperature on the day the man was sent out to work on the roof was 89 degrees. The worker came to work at 6:30 AM and the foreman showed him available water coolers. The foreman also told the worker that if he got too hot, it was OK to tell him he wanted a break. No additional training was provided on heat-related hazards. The worker had all black clothing on but the foreman said nothing even though workers who work on a roof on a hot day are supposed to wear light color.
In mid-morning, employee showed signs of heat-related illness. The foreman noticed him sweating but employee said he was fine. Other employees later asked the foreman to check on the worker. He seemed fine, but was soon walking clumsily. At around 11:41 AM, he became ill, started shaking, and collapsed on the roof. His clothing was wet down, workers performed CPR and an ambulance was called but he remained in direct sunlight. The ambulance finally came, but the man later died of heat stroke.
Because the employer did not do enough to train and protect the worker, employer was fined and cited by OSHA. Employers need to ensure they are taking active steps to protect employees as the days get hot.
A Scranton accident attorney at O'Malley & Langan can help. Call (800) 817-2667 today to schedule your free consultation. Serving Lackawanna, Luzerne, Bradford, Schuykill, Lehigh, Monroe, Wyoming and Wayne counties and surrounding areas.