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Workers' compensation: Heat exposure can kill landscapers

Landscapers in Ohio were recently reminded of the dangers posed by the sun. The hottest time of the year -- with extended hours of daylight -- is the period from June through August, and heat-related workers' compensation claims are most prevalent at this time. The nature of their industry puts employees in excessive heat for the majority of each workday. Health and safety authorities underscored the importance of teaching teenagers in part-time summer jobs about the dangers of heat exposure.

This followed the tragic death of an 18-year-old student of an Ohio high school who accepted part-time employment with a landscaping company and died on the very first day at work. The official cause of death is pending, but a report by the county sheriff indicated that the teenager's body temperature was extremely high when paramedics arrived at the work site. This incident could have been prevented, and it underscores the importance of proper safety training.

Along with the threat of heat stroke, extended hours in the sun can also cause skin cancer. It is important to allow employees to acclimatize at the start of summer to ensure gradual exposure. However, it is equally important to provide safety training to new and experienced workers to remind them of the need to stay hydrated, take frequent breaks in cool areas, wear protective, light-weight and light-colored clothing along with hats and sunglasses.

To protect the skin, workers must apply high-SPF sunscreen frequently and keep an eye on each other to ensure prompt treatment for heat illness. Victims of heat-related illness or disease may file workers' compensation benefits claims with the Ohio insurance program to help them cope with medical expenses. Those who lost wages due to absences may also claim lost income benefits, which typically cover a percentage of the worker's average weekly wage. Similarly, the loved ones of a worker who died on-the-job can pursue claims for death benefits.

Source: totallandscapecare.com, "Educating employees on beating the heat this summer", Beth Hyatt, June 20, 2017

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