Heat Related Injury Leads to Fatality, Fines by OSHA

Heat related injury awareness should be a part of every company's safety protocol.Heat related injury is a major cause of summer fatality for construction workers. The summer months can be challenging for most construction workers. With daily temperatures reaching 100 degrees or more, the work environment becomes a serious risk for those working in the construction industry. In June, LH Musser and Sons Inc. of Clarksburg, Maryland was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for a serious violation related to OSHA’s general duty clause.

Heat Related Injury Precedes Death of Construction Worker

The LH Musser and Sons Inc. employee was assigned to a crew responsible for paving the parking lot of a church located in the District of Columbia. The worker became ill from a heat injury and died after he was taken to the hospital. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) data, eighty-one construction workers died from heat related injury and illnesses between 2003-2009. Consequently over that same period, 4110 heat related injury incidents requiring sick days from work have been reported by the construction industry.

Robert Szymanski, acting director of OSHA’s Baltimore/Washington Area office stated the LH Musser tragedy should serve as a reminder to employers that workers need constant access to water, rest, and shade to prevent heat related injury or illness. During the scorching summer months. Szymanski also noted workers should be educated and trained on how to become familiar with the signs of heat related injury.

Failing to Offer Heat Related Injury Program Costs Employer

LH Musser faces a proposed fine of $6,900. The violation alleges LH Musser failed to offer a program addressing heat related injury hazards in the workplace. The LH Musser work site was outdoors and employees performed duties using hot asphalt in direct sunlight. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) contends LH Musser and Sons Inc. did not provide a work/rest regime or ensure employees consumed appropriate amounts of water. In addition, LH Musser did not enforce a training program or procedure for employees related to recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat related injury or prevention techniques.

OSHA has developed heat related injury and illness educational materials. In addition, OSHA offers a curriculum specifically for workplace training. OSHA’s website http://www.osha.gov also provides extensive information on heat related injury prevention. Users can access an abundance of information including posters that illustrate heat illness, OSHA heat prevention lesson plans, and a variety of fact sheets related to heat illness.