Employees who must work outside during the warmer months are at risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses. Hot temperatures and direct exposure to the sun can cause a wide range of medical ailments. If your job exposes you to the elements, here is what you need to know about workers’ compensation and heat-related illnesses. 

Jobs that Have a Higher Risk of Heat-Related Illnesses

Certain jobs and industries are much more likely to require workers to spend most of or all their shifts outside under the sun. Occupations, where workers may have a higher risk of developing a heat-related illness on the job, include:

  • Road construction workers
  • Roofers
  • Building construction workers
  • Agricultural workers
  • Landscapers
  • Utility workers
  • Lifeguards
  • Letter carriers and package delivery drivers

Employers Are Obligated to Protect Workers Against Heat-Related Illness

You should expect your employer to take steps to help protect you against heat-related illnesses that you might suffer on the job when you are exposed to extreme heat conditions. Steps employers can take include:

  • Providing workers with adequate water or other appropriate hydration
  • Offering workers frequent breaks in the shade or in air conditioning
  • Limiting outdoor duties during the early to mid-afternoon when temperatures are highest and the sun is strongest
  • Ensuring that workers wear weather-appropriate clothing, such as loose, brightly-colored fabrics, long sleeve shirts and pants if working in direct sunlight, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses that provide appropriate UV protection
  • Installing adequate ventilation of partially or fully enclosed workplaces that do not have air conditioning or HVAC systems

You May Be Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits for an On-the-Job Heat-Related Illness

Workers whose jobs require them to work outside can suffer a wide range of heat-related illnesses, such as:

  • Sunburn
  • Sun poisoning
  • Heat stroke
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Hyperthermia

Profuse sweating from high heat can also lead to work accidents and injuries when workers lose their grip on tools or equipment they are using or have their grip slip when climbing a ladder, for example. 

In New Jersey, an employee who suffers a heat-related illness while on the job is entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits available under the New Jersey workers’ comp system include:

  • Medical benefits, which pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment for your heat-related occupational illness
  • Temporary disability benefits, which provide partial wage replacement after you miss at least seven days of work, which helps make up for lost income if you cannot work or if you earn less money in part-time or light-duty work while you recover from your heat-related illness
  • Permanent disability benefits, which offers financial payments if you suffer some form of permanent impairment or disability that restricts your ability to work or perform daily activities, or if you become fully disabled from gainful employment

In addition, workers’ comp can offer death benefits to the surviving dependents of a worker who passes away due to a heat-related illness that they suffer on the job. Death benefits provide financial payments to dependents and contributions toward funeral and burial expenses.

Contact a Rochelle Park Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your New Jersey Workplace Injury Case

A workplace injury can be devastating, particularly if it prevents you from returning to work for an extended period of time. Although New Jersey Workers’ Compensation laws are supposed to provide you with reimbursement for medical expenses and replacement pay for missed time at work, it is not always easy to get the Workers’ Comp benefits you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation lawyer about your situation and get guidance throughout the claims process. The experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients in Mahwah, Paramus, Ridgewood, Englewood, and all across New Jersey. Call (201) 380-7687 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation about your work injury case. Our main office is located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.