Offshore workers face many challenges due to environmental conditions; one of the less frequently discussed hazards is heat stress. When working on a ship or rig, direct sunlight can strike metal surfaces with little or no shade to offer relief, causing the structure’s temperatures to rise dramatically. If proper precautions aren’t taken to protect employees, injuries are more likely to occur.
A person’s body is designed to cool itself by circulating blood to the skin and releasing sweat. When environmental temperatures are close to or even hotter than normal body temperature, these cooling processes don’t work as effectively. Blood circulated to the skin doesn’t lose its heat; sweating still occurs, but can cause dangerous chemical imbalances if the salt and fluid lost isn’t replaced in a timely fashion. When the body can’t cool down, heat is stored, causing a person’s temperature and heart rate to increase. If the rise in temperature continues unchecked, a person can faint and possibly even die if cooling measures aren’t taken. For this reason, offshore workers are particularly at risk. Shifts are often long; employees stand under the direct sun with no shade or air conditioning. Worse still, because of the nature of many offshore jobs, workers are often required to wear heavy protective gear, which traps heat and raises body temperature at an accelerated rate. All of these factors drastically increase an individual’s chances of suffering from heat-related illnesses.
In order to protect workers from dangerously hot conditions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed work guidelines to combat heat-related illnesses. This plan includes but is not limited to taking the following steps:
When employers do not take the appropriate actions to protect their employees from heat stress and other related conditions, they create a very dangerous working environment. If you or a loved one has suffered an illness or injury while working offshore as a result of heat stress, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an offshore injury attorney (https://www.offshoreinjuryfirm.com/) from Arnold & Itkin today for a free and confidential consultation.
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