Surviving the Heat Wave: A North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Primer

August 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina – and the rest of the United States – is caught in a vicious heat wave that has some North Carolina workers’ compensation analysts concerned. During extreme weather, vulnerable workers – such as the elderly or those with physically demanding industrial jobs – can be subject to fainting spells, dehydration, delirium, and general fatigue. If you fail to monitor yourself, your coworkers, and your employees – the dog days of August can cause, or contribute to, a disaster or illness that can dog you long after the dog days have had their last bark.

Here are some examples of how hot weather can precipitate accident/injuries.

Example Number One: House Painters Use Red

A house painter in Greensboro forgets to pack his typical iced drinks and sodas. Instead of going back to get them, he figures, why not log a few hours first? So he climbs a ladder and begins painting. He gets so wrapped up in his work that he doesn’t feel that he is overheating in the hot sun. Sweat drips onto his ladder, creating a slippery surface. He misses a rung, slips, and falls 15 feet into the bushes below, where he breaks his leg, severs a tendon, and gets scratched up. Thanks to the dog days, he is forced to miss 15 weeks of work.

Example Number Two: Too Hot in the Office

An elderly woman who works as a receptionist at a small business just outside the Research Triangle feels faint. Her boss had failed to fix the air-conditioning, so she brought in a small fan. But today, the fan is not enough. While typing a report, she passes out from the heat and has to be hospitalized due to dehydration.

Example Number Three: Air Conditioner Repair Disaster

After the elderly worker’s unfortunate dehydration incident, her boss decides that it is time to fix the air conditioner. She goes out back and tries to do it herself, but, since she lacks the training and tools to do the job right, the air conditioner condenser explodes. The wind is knocked out of her, and she receives lacerations, sending her, too, to the hospital with injuries.

Moral: The dog days present a surprising number of risks for workers. If you, or someone you know, has recently been hurt or made ill during the dog days (or at any other time), a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you understand how to get compensation, how to protect your rights, and how to deal with insurance companies.

More Web Resources:

Dog Days of August in Carolina

heat waves and elderly