Report: Extreme Heat Injuries More than 20,000 Workers Per Year in California

As reported by Reuters, July of 2023 has been the world’s hottest year in recorded history. California has not been spared—many parts of our state have experienced serious heat waves this summer. Extreme temperatures pose a significant safety hazard to outdoor workers. According to reporting from The Desert Sun, more than 20,000 people suffer heat-related injuries and illnesses on the job each year in California. Below, our Fresno workers’ comp lawyer provides an overview of the risks outdoor workers face from the summer heat and the steps to take if you are harmed while on the job

Rising Temperatures Pose a Serious Risk to Outdoor Workers in California

With the anticipation of more heatwaves this summer, California is examining the long-term economic impact on workers and businesses and seeking ways to enhance protection against extreme temperatures. Although the state has outdoor heat standards, enforcement remains a challenge, and indoor rules are under development. A study by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth found that hot days led to 360,000 workplace injuries from 2001 to 2018, costing $525 million to $875 million per year. Low-wage workers, especially young men, are at the greatest risk. A new state advisory committee aims to tackle these issues, while recent legislation and ongoing efforts are focusing on heat warnings, research, and local government protections.

California Has Some of the Strongest Workplace Outdoor Heat Protections, But Gaps Remain

California is one of a minority of states that have specific regulations in place for outdoor worker heat safety. Starting in 2005, the state implemented a law mandating that employers must provide outdoor workers with water breaks, shade, and rest at certain temperature levels. The results have been positive: According to data cited in the aforementioned Washington Center study, these standards have resulted in a 30% decline in occupational heat-related injuries in the state since their implementation. Despite progress, unions and advocates, who have sued the state in the past, stress the need for more accountability from employers and better enforcement. Some experts also advocate for better outreach and education, emphasizing culturally and linguistically appropriate communication about heat risks and workers’ rights. 

What to Do if You Suffer a Heat-Related Injury or Illness on the Job in Fresno

Were you or your loved one harmed by heat while working outdoors in Fresno? It is imperative that you take immediate action to protect your rights and your interests. Here are four key steps to take: 

  • Get immediate medical attention. Cooling off and protecting yourself comes first. 
  • Report the incident. You should report a heat injury or heat illness to your employer right away. 
  • Document what happened. Be sure that you record exactly what happened, including the extent of your injuries and the conditions that you were required to work in. 
  • Consult with an attorney. A Fresno workers’ comp lawyer can help you seek the benefits you are entitled to. 

Contact Our Fresno, CA WorkersCompensation Attorney Today

Joseph C. Yrulegui is an experienced, justice-focused advocate for injured workers. If you or your family member sustained a heat-related injury in the workplace, we are more than ready to help. Contact us today to arrange your completely confidential initial legal consultation. Our firm represents injured workers in Fresno and throughout California