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Workplace illness: Heat exposure kills Missouri roof worker

Every summer, workers in a variety of industries in Missouri and other states suffer the consequences of working in extreme heat. Heat exposure can cause a workplace illness that can lead to death. A federal safety agency recently reported the outcome of an investigation into the August death of a roof worker.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the incident occurred at a Jefferson City high school. Reportedly, employees worked on the roof in dangerously hot conditions. A 47-year-old worker — who started working for this company only three days earlier — collapsed while working, and he was rushed to a hospital where he passed away the following day.

Medical reports apparently indicated that the worker’s core body temperature exceeded 107 degrees Fahrenheit when he was admitted to the hospital. Heat-related fatalities are entirely preventable by following the simple safety regulations as prescribed by OSHA. By providing regular breaks in cool areas, enough cold drinking water, and protective but light clothing, such fatalities need not happen.

An OSHA spokesperson said it is vital for employers to allow workers to acclimate to hot conditions gradually, followed by ongoing precautions to prevent workplace illness that can lead to death. Missouri families who have lost loved ones in job-related incidents are entitled to pursue financial assistance. The workers’ compensation insurance system allows surviving family members to file benefits claims for coverage of the high costs of a funeral and burial, along with the sudden loss of income. A wage-replacement package that is typically based on the deceased worker’s average wage can help the dependents to cope with living expenses for a predetermined period after the death of their loved one.

Source: CBS St. Louis, “Missouri Roofing Company Cited in Heat Death of Worker”, Nov. 10, 2016