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OSHA and NIOSH release heat safety smartphone application

Workers in West Virginia and around the country who perform their duties outdoors face additional hazards during the summer months. Heat-related conditions claimed the lives of 16 American workers in 2014 according to figures from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the federal safety agency says that most of these deaths could have been prevented. OSHA has taken steps to address the problem by collaborating with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to develop a heat safety smartphone application for employers.

The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool uses geolocation technology to deliver accurate temperature and humidity data including heat index forecasts. Employers can use the data, which is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to adjust work schedules when temperatures could make conditions dangerous. The application summarizes the climate data and issues one of four risk levels that range from minimal to extreme.

In addition to downloading and using the tool, employers can better protect their workers by being aware of the risks of working in high temperatures and ensuring that their supervisors and managers are properly trained to notice the signs of heat exhaustion. Outdoor workers should also be provided with shaded break areas and an adequate supply of potable water during the summer months.

Workers who suffer from heat-related conditions are usually able to return to their duties fairly quickly, but they may still be entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits to cover their medical expenses and lost wages. However, filing a workers' compensation claim can be a frustrating experience for those not familiar with the paperwork involved. Attorneys with experience in this area could ensure that the workers are applying for all of the benefits they may be entitled to.

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