You may not regularly peruse the press releases published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), so one announcement in particular might have slipped under the radar for many Florida workers. On October 27, 2021, the agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding new standards on heat exposure for employees working both indoors and outside. The initiative aims to protect workers as they perform job-related tasks in hot environments, as well to alleviate the risk of injuries from exposure to extreme heat.
For most of the US, working outside over the next few months will NOT trigger OSHA regulations on heat exposure: The standards take effect when the heat index exceeds 80 degrees. However, it is common for employees in South Florida to work in such conditions almost year-round. While you should always trust a Miami workplace injury lawyer for help if you suffer from a work-related medical condition, you should note some key provisions of the new OSHA standards.
Dangers of Working in Extreme Heat
An Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is the beginning of the OSHA regulatory process, but new standards on working in heat could become binding on Florida employers in the coming months. For now, officials welcome comments on workplace injuries and illnesses stemming from hazardous heat, especially in certain industries, geographic regions, and occupations. OSHA’s move was prompted by the following data:
- Heat is the number one cause of death when it comes to weather-related phenomena.
- Exposure to extreme heat can lead to heat stroke and death in the short term. Long-term implications include exacerbation of such conditions as asthma, respiratory disorders, kidney failure, and heart disease.
- Though OSHA stressed that heat illness is one of the most under-reported workplace concerns, 43 employees died and more than 2,400 workers suffered serious illnesses due to heat exposure.
Florida Law Protects Injured Workers
Almost all employees are covered under Florida workers’ compensation system. Employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance when they have four or more employees; construction companies must have a policy in place to protect ALL employees. If you suffer medical issues because of exposure to heat, your legal remedy comes through these workers’ comp laws instead of a personal injury lawsuit. You do not need to prove that your employer was at fault in causing your condition, which means you could receive workers’ comp benefits promptly. You may qualify for:
- Costs for all medical care that is reasonable and necessary to treat your medical condition;
- Temporary total or partial disability;
- Permanent impairment benefits; and,
- Death benefits, for surviving family members who lost a loved one because of extreme heat exposure.
Our Miami Workplace Injury Attorneys Will Help With Legal Remedies
The team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA is dedicated to assisting employees who suffer from work-related medical conditions, so please contact our firm today. You can call (305) 371-6000 or go online to schedule a free consultation. We can meet with you at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach to discuss your options.