As summer starts in full swing, the weather gets warmer and warmer. Most people welcome the warmer weather, but the summer heat can mean serious danger for workers.
Occupational injuries related to heat stress are all too common, but a new law could help prevent such injuries in the future.
More protection for workers against heat stress
Back in May, Maryland House Bill 722 became law. This statute states that employers must meet certain standards to protect workers from illnesses caused by heat stress.
The state’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and employers must have these protections and standards in place by October 2022. These changes might not be immediate, but workers should anticipate them.
Heat stress poses a serious risk to many workers
Occupational heat-related injuries are indeed compensable under Maryland’s workers’ compensation laws (Maryland Code, Labor & Employment §9-501). However, heat stress injuries are almost completely preventable. There are several steps that employers can take to reduce the risks of heat stress injuries, such as:
- Heat stroke;
- Exhaustion, which increases the chance of injuries;
- Rashes or burns; or
- Even death.
And yet, OSHA reports that thousands of workers suffer serious illnesses each year due to heat stress. The workers most at risk for these illnesses include:
- Construction workers;
- Landscaping workers;
- Agricultural workers; and
- Warehouse workers.
Many of these workers work outdoors or in warehouses with little airflow. They also exert extensive physical activity at work, which increases their chances of suffering serious injuries.
The protections that the new law will provide will hopefully reduce the risks of any workers suffering from heat stress. However, all workers must ensure they take precautions at work to avoid heat-related injuries – especially during the summer.