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Workers' compensation covers heat-related illnesses

When the weather service recently predicted a heat wave to occur in some parts of New Jersey, employers were once again reminded that incidents of heat stroke are emergencies and that precautions must be taken to protect employees. Every summer, employees who suffered heat-related illnesses rely on the workers' compensation insurance program to cover medical bills and lost wages. This time, three days of excessive heat with temperatures going up to 101 degrees Fahrenheit was predicted.

While all those working outside are particularly vulnerable during heat waves, employees in warehouses and other indoor facilities without adequate air conditioning face similar risks. Employers were urged to prepare employees for what to expect and to refresh related safety training. Even the slightest sign of heat illness symptoms must be treated promptly because it can develop into life-threatening situations within minutes.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends regular drinks of cool liquids and frequent breaks in shady areas -- or air conditioned rooms for indoor workers. Outdoor workers must wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses. However, safety authorities suggest outdoor jobs be rescheduled to days when cooler weather is expected.

New Jersey workers who are suffering the consequences of heat illnesses can pursue financial relief, but they must report their conditions to their employers as soon as possible. Benefits claim forms can then be completed for the employer to submit to the workers' compensation insurance provider. The company must typically settle medical bills immediately, while lost wages for days off work must be approved by the insurer before wage replacement is paid.

Source: lehighvalleylive.com, "Be careful out there as heat, humidity form dangerous combo", Tony Rhodin, July 20, 2017

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