New York readers who are familiar with our previous posts know that employers have a legal responsibility to keep working conditions safe for their employees. Under both New York and federal laws, employers must adhere to certain safety regulations to protect their employees from workplace accidents. These protections can include special safety equipment, training and proper maintenance to their equipment.
In this summer of record-breaking heat, many workers may be wondering what safety regulations protect them from external conditions, such as excessive heat, that can cause a workplace injury. Currently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have any regulations that protect workers from spending too much time working outside on extremely hot days.
This is a big problem, according to some workers’ rights groups, which are pushing for OSHA to adopt more protections. This summer has been particularly hot, with 324 heat-related records being broken around the country since June 1. This can increase the chances for workers to get seriously sick. Since 1992, exposure to extremely hot temperatures has caused more than 43,000 serious injuries to workers around the country. Furthermore, 523 people have been killed in this same time period due to extreme heat exposure.
These statistics show that the potential for serious injuries to New York workers exists in extreme summer heat. Because regulations are not in place, employers may be tempted to force employees to continue working through the extreme temperatures. If an employer does so, and employees are injured, those employees may be entitled to workers’ compensation to cover the costs of their injuries.
Source: Fox News, “Too hot for work?” Laurie Tarkan, July 12, 2012