Summer jobs can be grueling and difficult because workers must contend with the heat, intense humidity, and the back-breaking labor that is done in the hot summer months. In some cases, people work exclusively in the summer because of the nature of their industry. Is it important to review the dangers that workers face in the summer so employers can understand how summer work injuries occur, and how to prevent workplace accidents and injuries.
What are the Risks of Working in the Summer?
Summer work injuries occur for a variety of reasons. Workers could easily become overheated, slip and fall on the wet ground from rain, or step on electric wiring. Bright sunlight could cause visibility problems that will impair the ability to do one’s job, and workers could be injured by the tools they handle.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40 percent of injuries are strains, sprains, and tears. This may sound minor, but people who are injured at work have a hard time getting back to work. Even a minor injury could compromise everyone’s safety or force employees to miss work for weeks at a time.
The National Safety Council notes that work-related injuries cost $161 billion each year. That number includes Workers’ Compensation claims, lost productivity, lost pay, property damage, and even claims from lawsuits. When compounding the stress and heat of summer work with the likelihood of slipping or falling, massive industrial tools, and loud noises, a summer job may not be as exciting as it seems.
Who is at Risk During the Summer?
Anyone who works outside has a greater risk of being injured on the job. Agricultural, construction, and maintenance workers must be outside almost all the time. These workers will be exposed to high temperatures, humidity, and the strain of manual labor. Anyone who must visit these workers could also be subject to summer-related work injuries.
Additionally, workers who are overweight, smoke, drink heavily, or have underlying health conditions are more likely to be injured on the job. Workers who have additional jobs in the summer may not be prepared for the heat and humidity they will experience, along with the physical exertion needed to complete the work.
Most Common Summer-Related Injuries and Illnesses
Summer work injuries range from minor cuts and scrapes to serious conditions. Workers must be open-minded and realize that anyone on a worksite could experience these problems at any time. Common summer work injuries and illnesses include the following:
Dehydration: This is common among outdoor workers because it is easy to focus on the tasks at hand and forget to drink water, which quickly leads to dehydration. In extreme cases, employers may not allow time for water, snacks, or rest.
Heat stroke: This causes severe health issues or even death, and anyone who appears to be dehydrated or unfocused should be treated immediately.
Slip and falls: These are common simply because of morning dew and summer storms. Workers may experience cuts, scrapes, and bruises that must be tended to immediately.
Ladder and scaffolding hazards: A worker who climbs a ladder everyday should have a spotter and be hooked to a safety wire or harness. Workers on scaffolding should also understand how to walk on the scaffolding appropriately.
Power tools: These accidents can occur when a tool slips out of a worker’s hand, the worker is too weak to hold the tool, or the tools malfunction due to extreme heat or humidity.
Electrocution: This can occur when workers are asked to work near puddles or open water. Tools can be damaged during the day without anyone noticing, and a shorted wire could cause an electrocution. Also, summer storms might waterlog wiring, cause ground circuits to fail, or electrify a closed circuit.
Car accidents: In the summer, construction crews may be working too close to the road where drivers are traveling. Also, during rainstorms, drivers might slide out of control on wet roads, potentially hitting workers.
Can Summer Injuries and Heat-Illnesses be Prevented?
Preventing summer injuries should be first priority. Summer-related illnesses and injuries occur due to carelessness, extreme heat, and the intensity of outdoor work. Companies should implement employee training to avoid summer work injuries. Employees should be taught how to use all the tools available on the worksite. This means that an employee who has not used a certain tool should be trained before starting a new job. At the same time, everyone on the site should be taught how to avoid accidents, how to shut down power tools that are not in use, and how to report accidents.
Ladder safety, forklift safety, vehicle safety, and even lifting safety should be taught on the worksite. While there may be experienced workers on the job, they need to be taught how the company manages forklifts, ladders, scaffolding, and large machines, like cranes. Employers should even go so far as taping or marking restricted zones around the worksite. These zones should be marked so workers keep away from all dangers, such as an electrical hazard, large machinery, and unstable ground.
How Can Employers Improve Working Conditions and Morale?
Employers can improve working conditions by providing employees with better tools and equipment. While preparation and breaks are helpful, workers will still be injured if they are using improper tools or working on sites that are not set up properly. Employers should do the following:
- Provide tools that are ergonomically sound.
- Provide blade guards for all tools.
- Provide proper lifting gear and machinery.
- Keep all work surfaces dry.
- Provide protective gloves, helmets, hardhats, and goggles.
If employers are not providing the appropriate tools and equipment, it stands to reason that more employees will be injured. At the same time, employers must advise workers about their rights, create a clear chain of command for reporting injuries, and carry Workers’ Compensation insurance when required by law. Workers should know who to report injuries to, when they should call 911, and how they will receive medical care under Workers’ Compensation. If a worker is injured, speaking to a lawyer may be helpful. A lawyer will help an injured worker file a claim correctly and ensure that the worker receives the maximum amount of compensation available.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Advocate for Injured Summer Workers
If you suffered from a summer-related work injury or illness, reach out to one of our Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC for assistance. Call us today at 302-888-1221 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including Dover, Newark, and Middletown.