The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued two citations for the death of a worker due to complications associated with heat-stroke. There is actually no federal standard that requires employers to have a heat-stress policy in place. The citations arose out of the general duty clause because the employer failed to have an effective plan in place to ensure workers did not become dangerously hot. The citations also arose out of a requirement that companies in the construction industry train all workers to recognize and respond to potential hazards.
Heat stroke is a major concern in Georgia summers and workers and employers need to ensure that they are taking steps to avoid heat-related risks. When a worker is injured or killed on the job as a result of complications of heat, an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer should be consulted by the employee or his family member. A workers’ compensation claim can be made to get medical costs covered, as well as to provide wage loss or death benefits to the employee or his family members.
Employers Must Have a Plan in Place to Protect Workers from Heat-Related Illnesses
According to Safety News Alert, OSHA fines in connection with the death of the worker due to heat stroke totaled more than $8,000. The employer in question appealed the citations because there is no federal requirement related to a heat-stress plan. The administrative law judge, however, upheld the OSHA citations and fines.
The incident arose out of the death of a 60-year-old temporary worker who reported to a job fixing the roof of a bank. The temporary worker had previously been working in a job in an air conditioned space over a three year period of time. He said he had roofing experience, but the foreman did not look into how much experience he actually had and the foreman did not ask anything about the nature of the experience.
The temp worker reported to work at 6:30 AM wearing all black clothing, although workers who do roofing work on hot days are generally supposed to wear clothing that is light in color. The foreman showed him the water coolers available for workers to take a drink and told him that if he was too hot, he should take a break. The foreman checked on him several times and other co-workers also alerted the foreman to a potential problem. However, the temp worker insisted he was fine.
The foreman noticed the worker walking clumsily shortly after a morning break that all employees took. Shortly thereafter, at around 11:41 AM, the man collapsed and he began shaking and fell ill. His clothing was wet down, and an ambulance was called but he wasn’t moved out of the sun. The man subsequently died of complications associated with heat stroke.
Although the foreman had tried in some ways to take care of the worker in the heat, the absence of effective training and a heat-stress plan meant that the employer had broken OSHA workplace safety rules and OSHA fined the employer for its part in the death.
Preventing future tragedies is essential and every employer should be sure to focus on effective training and prevention of heat-related illness this summer.
The Atlanta workplace fatality lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury at work. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.