Summers in Massachusetts can become too hot for outdoor workers without the proper precautions. Workers run the risk of developing a heat-related illness like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The symptoms of heat-related illness

Heat exhaustion occurs when one loses an excessive amount of water and salt and is characterized by continual sweating, clammy skin and dizziness. Heat cramps may arise as well; these are muscle cramps in the abdomen, arms and legs, usually accompanied by spasms. One may even develop a rash, which will appear as a cluster of red pimples or blisters on the neck and upper chest.

As for heat stroke, this happens when the body can no longer control its temperature. Victims will have a high body temperature and a strong pulse but be unable to sweat. Heat stroke can cause death or a permanent disability if not treated right away.

Protecting workers from these conditions

Outdoor workers can stay safe in the summer by taking several steps. They should pace themselves and take breaks frequently, hopefully in a shaded area. Avoiding dehydrating liquids like coffee and caffeinated soft drinks, they should drink plenty of water: 16 ounces at the start and then 5 to 7 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes after that. They should eat fruits high in fiber and avoid high-protein foods.

Workers’ clothing can affect how much heat they absorb. It should be lightweight, be light-colored and not fit tightly. Workers should have a change of clothes in case what they are wearing becomes drenched. Then, there’s the importance of wearing sunscreen. A damp rag around the neck can benefit workers, too.

A lawyer to guide you through each step

Under workers’ compensation law, anyone who is injured or develops an illness while on the job may be eligible for benefits. These benefits include wage replacement and temporary or permanent disability leave, but they are not guaranteed to everyone. For this reason, you may want a lawyer to guide you through the filing process and help you mount an appeal if necessary.