Outdoor workers exposed to Florida’s sweltering climate are vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. Conditions like heat stroke and heat exhaustion pose a serious risk to their health.
When employees fall to heat-related sickness in the course of performing their duties, they may qualify to receive workers’ compensation to help with any medical or rehabilitation expenses and wages lost during recovery.
To qualify for workers’ compensation for heat-related illnesses, employees need to show the illness is a direct result of their work conditions. They can do this by providing medical documentation detailing the diagnosis, treatment and probable cause of the illness. Witnesses, such as colleagues or supervisors, can also help validate the claim. It is important to report the sickness as soon as possible to the appropriate person (usually the employer). Failing to do so can complicate the compensation process.
Taking preventative measures helps mitigate the danger of working in extreme temperature conditions. Employers have a responsibility to create a safe working environment, especially during hot weather. Ways to do this include offering breaks in shaded areas, access to cool water and proper training for recognizing the signs of heat-related illnesses. Additionally, implementing a buddy system where colleagues look out for each other can be helpful. Co-workers can remind each other to take breaks and stay hydrated, as well as get help when their partners are ill.
According to Pensacola News Journal, heat-related deaths shot up by 88% between 2020 and 2023. Fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being and safety can help reduce the incidence of heat-related illnesses. Workers’ compensation offers valuable relief to workers who get heat-related illnesses regardless of preventative measures.