Workers’ Compensation Lawyer San Diego, CA

Construction Injuries Rise with Heat Exposure Research Shows

A construction worker is seen from behind, looking out over a large construction site filled with cranes and building activity.

A recent study conducted by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) has shed light on the alarming relationship between rising temperatures and an increased risk of workplace injuries. Workers and employers should understand how heat exposure can contribute to or lead to workplace injuries, especially in the construction industry.

The study analyzed workers' compensation claims data from 2016 to 2021 alongside weather data across 24 states. It revealed a clear correlation between higher outdoor temperatures and the likelihood of work-related injuries. This research can serve as a catalyst for meaningful discussions and actions to ensure the safety and well-being of workers who experience heat exposure.

How does heat exposure impact worker safety?

The study compared injury rates on days with higher temperatures to those with more moderate temperatures. Specifically, the researchers used a baseline daily high-temperature range of 65-70°F as a reference point. They then analyzed the change in injury rates when daily high temperatures reached 85-90°F, 90-95°F, and 95°F or above.

The researchers discovered a consistent increase in the risk of work-related injuries as daily high temperatures climbed above 65-70°F. When daily high temperatures reached 85-90°F, the chance of a work-related injury was found to be 4.3% greater than on days with temperatures between 65-70°F. This increased risk became even more pronounced as temperatures continued to rise.

On days when the daily high temperature was between 90-95°F, the probability of a workplace injury increased to 5.3%. When temperatures soared to 95°F or above, the risk of injury was approximately 6% higher than on days with moderate temperatures. One of the most concerning findings of the study was the greater impact of excessive heat on traumatic injuries. These injuries, which include fractures, dislocations, contusions, and lacerations, were found to be more likely to occur on days with higher temperatures.

Which workers are the most impacted by heat exposure?

The study found that when daily high temperatures reached 90-95°F, the chance of a construction worker suffering an injury was 14% higher compared to days when temperatures were between 65-70°F. This increased risk became even more pronounced when temperatures soared to 95-100°F, with construction workers facing a staggering 20% greater likelihood of injury compared to days with moderate temperatures.

The construction industry's heightened vulnerability to heat-related injuries can be due to physically demanding tasks outdoors and exposure to direct sunlight and high temperatures for extended periods. Additionally, the use of heavy equipment and the need to wear protective gear can further exacerbate the effects of heat stress on construction workers.

The study also revealed regional differences in the impact of rising temperatures on workplace injuries. Workers in the South were found to exhibit a higher risk of injury under higher temperatures compared to other regions. This finding is not entirely surprising, given the generally warmer climate in the southern states and the increased likelihood of workers being exposed to extreme heat conditions.

However, the study also uncovered a surprising finding regarding the Northeast region. When daily high temperatures reached 90-100°F, workers in the Northeast experienced an 8% rise in injuries compared to days with temperatures between 65-70°F. This may be due to the lack of preparation for extreme temperatures among workers in the Northeast.

Consult with a San Diego workers' comp attorney and get the benefits you deserve

If you're dealing with a heat-related injury or health condition linked to your job, you have the right to seek workers' compensation benefits. This includes compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation. However, filing a workers' comp claim in California can be a confusing process. Any errors on the DWC-1 form or other parts of the claims process can result in your benefits getting delayed or denied.

San Diego and other parts of Southern California can experience high temperatures not just in the summer, but throughout the year, making heat-related injuries a constant concern here. Workers' compensation attorney Robert A. McLaughlin can guide you through the process and fight for the compensation you deserve. Don't wait to take action if you've been hurt on the job. Contact us online to schedule a free legal consultation. You can also call one of our law offices in San Diego, Chula Vista, or Temecula.

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