Report: Hotter Temperatures Mean More Work Injuries in California

According to a report cited by the Los Angeles Times, rising temperatures are expected to result in more work-related injuries in California. Alarmingly, the study also finds that heat-related workplace injuries and illnesses are underreported in the state’s current workerscompensation statistics. In this article, our Fresno workers’ comp attorney provides an overview of the study. 

UCLA/Stanford Study: More Workplace Injuries and Illnesses on Hot Days

The study cited by the Los Angeles Times comes from the Institute of Labor Economics. It was overseen by three researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Stanford University. In their study, the researchers reviewed nearly two decades of California workerscompensation data. Here are two key findings from the report: 

  • There are 9% more workers’ comp claims filed on days when the high temperature exceeds 90 degrees; and 
  • There are 15% more workers’ comp claims filed on days when the high temperature exceeds 100 degrees. 

As you may expect, the biggest heat-related workplace safety effects were observed in outdoor industries, such as landscaping and agriculture. However, interior industries, including manufacturing and retail, also saw significant spikes in workerscompensation claims on days with especially high temperatures. 

Heat Sickness and Exhaustion Carry Hidden Costs

One of the reasons why workers’ comp claims spike when temperatures rise is that high heat can cause injuries/illness. An employee may file a claim for work-related heat sickness or heat exhaustion. These can be especially dangerous medical conditions. That being said, they do not cover the full scope of the problem. Extreme temperatures also carry some hidden costs. 

As a researcher from UCLA noted when explaining the findings, very high temperatures can also make employees “more likely to fall, be hit by a moving vehicle or mishandle dangerous machinery.” This is a big reason why workers’ comp claims spike during hot weather: Some injuries that may not initially seem to be heat-related are caused, at least in part, by high temperatures.

Conclusion: Official Data Dramatically Understates Heat-Related Workplace Injuries

The report notes that California’s official workers’ comp claims data states that approximately 850 heat-related workerscompensation cases are filed each year. However, as high temperatures can contribute to many injuries and illnesses that are not officially classified as heat-related, the true toll is likely to be dramatically higher. Indeed, the researchers estimate that 20,000 workers are injured or made ill in a heat-related incident in California each year. With climate change expected to make extreme temperatures even more common, this is a serious issue that requires consideration. 

Call Our Fresno, CA Workers’ Comp Lawyer for Immediate HelpJoseph C. Yrulegui is a skilled, results-focused workerscompensation lawyer. If you or someone you know was hurt on the job, Mr. Yrulegui will protect your rights. Contact us right away for a confidential review and assessment of your case. Our legal team represents injured workers throughout Fresno County, including in Clovis, Coalinga, Huron, Fowler, and Firebaugh.