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Workers' compensation: Indoor heat control rules effective soon

Safety authorities in California were the first to establish regulations to protect workers from outdoor heat. Many workers' compensation claims involve heat stress and other climate-related illnesses or injuries. However, climate change and the prevalence of businesses being run from shipping containers have led to the proposal of new regulations that will also protect indoor workers from heat stress.

According to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, new regulations might take effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Workers in forty-foot long shipping containers could be exposed to heat measuring up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, even if it is below 100 degrees outside. The new proposed heat index rules will require employers to take steps to protect indoor employees if heat exceeds 82 degrees.

Cal/OSHA says, along with the many e-commerce workers who work in metal containers without ventilation, other occupations that pose indoor-heat risks include laundry workers, industrial cooks and shipping industry employees. Workers who are exposed to excessive heat levels can suffer heat illness that might even include heat stroke, which could be deadly. California workers in these high-risk industries might be wise to gather information about their rights and insist on protection against heat exposure.

Those who have suffered the consequences of heat stress might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. A California attorney with experience in this field can provide valuable assistance with the legal and administrative steps of the benefits claims process. Benefits typically cover payment of medical bills and a financial package to make up for a predetermined percentage of lost wages.

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