People who work around trains, railroad tracks and rail yards are subject to numerous risks. This time of year, an added risk is heat-related illnesses. Being out in the hot sun for hours can be dangerous on its own. However, if you’re doing highly physical labor, you have an even greater chance of developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Ironically, perhaps, the protective clothing and equipment worn by railroad workers can put them at even greater risk of developing heat-related conditions. Certainly, this protective near is necessary to help protect workers from harmful substances and more. However, when someone is wearing bulky gear, the heat can get trapped in it and cause heat rash or a more serious condition.
The responsibility falls largely on employers
Relatively few states have laws that require specific heat protections for people who work outdoors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently in the process of establishing federal standards.
However, employers in all industries – but particularly those that involve long stretches of physical labor outdoors – have a responsibility to help ensure that their workers have enough access to water, shade and rest. They also need to ensure that their employees know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and other heat-related medical conditions so they can get the necessary medical help for themselves or someone else before the situation becomes dangerous.
What puts some workers in a higher-risk category?
It’s crucial to be aware that while the blistering heat we’ve been experiencing this summer is hard on anyone’s body, some people are at greater risk than others. For example, older workers and those with certain pre-existing conditions like heart disease can be more seriously affected by heat than others. That needs to be considered when assigning workers to specific jobs when the temperatures soar.
If you or a loved one has suffered a heat-related illness while working, it’s imperative that you know your rights under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Having experienced legal guidance can help you seek justice and compensation.