Skip to Main Content



Heat Related Workplace Injuries

With summer around the corner, now is a great time to review workers’ rights if they suffer a heat related injury. Temperatures in Waterloo can regularly rise into the 90s, and anyone working a physically demanding job can end up feeling the effects of heat stress. Instead of ignoring the symptoms, workers should do everything possible to cool down so that they don’t end up passing out or suffering from heat stroke. Unfortunately, worker safety often collides with an employer’s desire to maximize profits and squeeze labor out of employees.

Call Ball, Kirk & Holm, P.C. if you suffer a heat related workplace injury. You might qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, which can pay for medical care and replace a share of your lost income. We are available 24/7 for our clients and are eager to hear your story.

Risk of Overheating

According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure to high temperatures can lead to heat stress, which can further lead to:

  • Heat cramps: Workers experience painful cramping or spasms when their body loses too much salt.
  • Heat rashes: Too much sweating leads to a rash, which looks like small blisters or clusters of pimples. Although perhaps not as dangerous as other injuries, a rash can become incredibly painful.
  • Heat exhaustion: You can suffer heat exhaustion when you lose too much water and salt. Common symptoms include headache, dizziness, heavy sweating, and muscle weakness.
  • Heat syncope: This essentially is an episode of fainting due to heat stress. A worker could easily suffer injuries when they hit the ground, especially if they fall off a ladder or slam their head against the corner of a desk.
  • Heat stroke: When your body cannot regulate its temperature, you can experience heat stroke. Bodily temps will spike dramatically and lead to major disability, even death.

Any worker is at risk of heat stress, but those working in hot environments are most likely to be injured. Vulnerable workers include firefighters, factory workers, miners, farmers, and construction workers. Anyone who is more than 65 years of age or is overweight is at greater risk of heat injury. But the reality is that any worker could be injured, and employers need to recognize the signs of heat stress and respond appropriately.

How to Cool Off

The best way to counter heat stress is to get to a cooler environment, either around an air conditioner or at least in the shade. Stop all physically demanding activities, which only increase body temperature. You should also remove as much clothing as possible, to encourage evaporation of sweat and cooling.

Workers must also replenish lost fluids by drinking water. For extreme cases, a worker might need to be put in an ice bath to aggressively cool their body temperature.

Job sites should take heat stress seriously. It can escalate to death. Employers have legal duties to protect their workers from known hazards, and this certainly includes excessive heat. Employers might need to institute regular breaks, complete with water and shade, to protect workers. They might also need to train workers on how to recognize the signs of heat stress.

Employers should also call emergency services, if necessary, if heat-stress injuries materialize. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Heat-Related Injuries

Heat stress can lead to injuries all by itself. Around 40 workers die each year from heat exposure.

Heat stress can also contribute to other accidents. For example, you might work on a roof in the middle of the summer. When you start feeling heat exhaustion, you might become disorientated and fall off the roof. Major fall injuries include fractures, head injuries, back injuries, and paralysis.

A road crew member struggling with heat exhaustion might wander into traffic and get struck by a vehicle. They can suffer serious bodily trauma and become permanently impaired.

In short, heat stress causes cascading problems. Overheating is itself dangerous, and weakened or disorientated workers are also at greater risk of other accidents.

Can You Receive Compensation for Heat Injuries?

Yes. If you were working at the time, you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Iowa. The state requires that virtually all employees purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy. This policy pays benefits for on-the-job injuries.

Fault rarely comes into play with workers’ compensation. That means you don’t need to prove your workplace was dangerous to obtain benefits.

Injured workers should receive:

  • Medical care for heat-related injuries, including any injuries resulting directly from heat stress, like injuries sustained in a fall.
  • Rehabilitation to recover from bodily injuries.
  • Disability benefits, if a worker must miss work due to injury or illness.

Many heat-related injuries are not life threatening. Nonetheless, a worker might need to miss weeks to recover, and workers’ compensation benefits exist so that you aren’t made destitute.

Legal Assistance with Claims

Despite being a no-fault system, workers’ compensation benefits are often harder to obtain than they should be. Many claims are unfairly denied. For example, an insurer might claim you suffered heat stress but outside of work, such as on the weekend. Or they might argue your heat stress did not cause whatever injury you claim.

Also, an insurer might argue you have fully recovered and can get back to work much sooner than you agree. That’s a real risk, especially when insurers don’t take heat stress seriously.

At Ball, Kirk & Holm, P.C., our workers’ compensation attorneys in Waterloo have helped many workers navigate the system. We know how to find evidence to counter whatever the grounds for denial. Workers need these benefits, and you should hire a seasoned legal advocate to help you get them.

Call Us Today

Our workers’ compensation lawyers are prepared to help injured workers this summer, or at any time of the year, with heat-related injuries. We can meet to discuss your workplace accident, as well as how it has affected you. We can also review any denial notice you might have received. Do not hesitate—call us today to schedule your free consultation with our law firm.