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What are heat-related illnesses and injuries?

On Behalf of | Jul 23, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

The summer temperatures keep soaring all over the country, and that’s putting increased stress on many people’s bodies – particularly those who have to work in the heat.

Factory workers, construction workers, fairground employees, landscapers and employees in a host of other occupations are all at seasonal risk of heat-related injuries. Knowing more about the potential dangers can help you be proactive about your safety. These are some of the key hazards to be aware of.


This one is easily solved – as long as you recognize the warning signs. Whether you’re indoors or out, excessive heat can make you sweat, and sweating causes fluid loss. If you don’t replace those fluids quickly enough, your body will start sending distress signals in the form of fatigue, dizziness, headache and dry mouth.

Heat cramps

Heat cramps are another signal that your body isn’t handling the heat very well and you need a break. When you lose a lot of fluids through sweat, you also lose important vitamins and minerals, known as electrolytes. These electrolytes are essential for numerous bodily functions, and cramps in your legs, arms or abdominal area are a sure signal that something is off balance.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is much more serious, and it’s a common problem when someone’s exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time – particularly if their body hasn’t had time to adjust because they’re new at their job or the temperatures suddenly soared. It’s typically characterized by weakness, cramps, extreme thirst, cold or clammy skin (despite the heat), headache, nausea, dizziness and even fainting.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is an actual medical emergency. Victims may experience all of the physical distress of heat exhaustion, except they typically develop hot, red skin and may stop sweating. Their body temperature can soar and – just like someone with a fever – they may be delirious or even lose consciousness.

All heat-related illnesses should be treated as an emergency, but heat exhaustion and heat stroke have the potential to be life-threatening. So, if you spot a co-worker having problems, don’t hesitate to call 911.

When heat-related illnesses happen on the job, workers’ compensation is likely available to cover the injured workers’ medical bills and help with their lost wages. Find out more about what it takes to assert your right to benefits after heat exhaustion or heat stroke leaves you injured.