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How employers can prevent heat exhaustion

When the Georgia summer rolls around, temperatures in large facilities can soar, putting workers at risk for suffering heat stress and illness. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will issue citations to employers who do not properly protect their employees against heat-related illnesses. In some cases, a fine could be as high as $70,000.

Amazon has faced problems with heat illnesses incurred by workers in its large facilities. In 2011, for example, an ambulance and paramedics parked outside one of its warehouses around the clock after numerous employees began to suffer from heat-related illnesses and exhaustion. The problem was that, due to the size of the facility, the warehouse could not be economically air conditioned, causing temperatures to rise to as high as 114 degrees inside.

To help employers keep their employees protected against heat exhaustion, OSHA provides a number of tools. One is a free heat safety app that can be downloaded to a smartphone and is available in both English and Spanish. It calculates a heat index and displays a risk level. Employers should also have a heat exhaustion plan in place in the event a worker becomes ill. Employers should also ensure that there are air-conditioned areas or shaded areas where workers can cool off. Plenty of cool drinking water should also be available.

Most employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance coverage, and benefits can be available for victims of workplace illnesses as well as injuries. The benefits can include partial wage replacement as well as payment of medical bills. An attorney can often assist an affected worker with the preparation and filing of the required claim documentation.

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