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Outdoor workers at risk for heat and lightning injuries

For Pennsylvanians who work outside, the summer months can present more risks for heat and lightning-related illnesses and injuries. In order to help protect employees, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched several initiatives to spread safety awareness for the summer.

OSHA has found that extreme heat can be a major risk for outdoor workers. In 2014 alone, there were more than 2,600 heat-related illnesses or injuries and 18 deaths. One of the main risk factors was how long an employee has been on the job. OSHA reports indicate that employees who have been on the job for less than three days are at a greater risk because they have not become acclimated to excessive heat.

Lightning is another major risk for employees who work outdoors as it can be unpredictable. Employers should consider lightning to be an occupational hazard as approximately 300 individuals are struck every year. Workplaces should monitor the weather and be aware of increasing wind speeds and other signs that a storm may be approaching. If a storm does approach, workers should seek shelter in fully enclosed buildings that have plumbing and electricity.

A workplace injury or illness caused by extreme heat or lightning can prevent a worker from being able to support themselves and their family. If a workers' compensation claim for such an injury is denied or suspended, an attorney may assist by filing an appeal. In many cases, the situation may be resolved amicably. If the case is not resolved, however, the lawyer might take the case to trial.

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