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Late summer heat melts worker injury record

SAIF received more heat-related injury claims last month than the last two Augusts combined.

posted September 01, 2017

With next week forecast to potentially break heat records, we want to make sure Oregonians stop breaking records for the number of heat-related injuries.

"On average, we receive claims for around 13 heat-related injuries every August," said Debra Corbin, industrial hygienist at SAIF. "This August, we've already received more than 30 heat-related claims—more than any August in recent memory—and companies are still reporting. That's more than the last two Augusts combined."

Most injuries were related to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or dehydration—which can be prevented with some simple precautions. But with wildfires burning in several places across the state, heat isn't the only concern for Oregon workers.

"During higher temperatures, we recommend employers reschedule outdoor work for a cooler part of the day," said Corbin. "With the poor air quality and smoke in the air, this will be an especially hazardous week for workers—if possible, employers should consider moving that work to another day."

Breathing wildfire smoke, even for short periods of time, may cause eye, nose, and throat irritation and headaches.

"DEQ has great resources so employers can check the air quality health level closest to their workplace," said Corbin. "We also recommend they schedule frequent breaks, provide water and proper masks for employees, and ensure the indoor air is clean by keeping windows and doors closed."

Corbin notes a properly fitted N95 particulate mask is appropriate for workers who must work outside—a paper dust mask is not sufficient. For indoors, employers can invest in high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.

Visit here for more information on heat safety and workers. For smoke safety, visit DEQ's Wildfires and Air Quality page

About SAIF:

SAIF is Oregon's not-for-profit workers' compensation insurance company. For more than 100 years, we've been taking care of injured workers, helping people get back to work, and striving to make Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work. For more information, visit the About SAIF page on saif.com.