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Construction Accidents, Other Work Perils Linked to Summer Heat

Ohio can be a rough place to work outside for construction and other workers, especially in summer.

Especially this summer. Workers in states across the country, including Ohio, have spent much of their time from June until now sweltering through temperatures that are at or near historic highs.

That kind of weather breeds exhaustion, confused thinking and generally precipitates factors that can lead to construction accidents and other work-related mishaps.

Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) are duly concerned with the added impact that high heat has on outdoor work activities, and they have taken strong measures this year to publicize worker fatalities and injuries that have occurred owing to stifling work conditions.

“July was the hottest on record in most of the U.S., and it’s important for all employers and workers to be aware of this,” notes David Michaels, OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor. OSHA has launched a campaign this summer stressing how to cope with heat while working.

Industries where deaths and injuries are most likely to occur include construction and mining, with intense heat being a contributing factor in falls, scaffolding accidents, trench-related injuries and other mishaps. Foundry accidents, additionally, are prevalent in Ohio.

Michaels notes the fine line a worker walks when considering whether it is simply uncomfortably hot or oppressive and even dangerous. He urges erring on the side of safety, and notes OSHA laws and worker protections that safeguard against an employer’s retaliation when an employee ceases work owing to heat-related conditions.

Related Resource: MSNBC, “Feeling the heat: Most dangerous summer jobs” Aug. 8, 2011