Do hot workplaces cost employers more money? From the perspective of workers’ compensation insurance, the answer might be “yes.” According to a report from KEQD, hot workplaces—more specifically, workplaces where workers are exposed to high levels of outdoor heat—are linked to a greater number of workplace injuries and illnesses—20,000 in California alone each year. That represents a significant additional expense for employers. Below, our Bakersfield workers’ compensation defense attorneys provide a more detailed overview of the findings raised in the report.
The Study: Hot Workplaces and Work Injury Claims
In recent years, California has faced a growing number of heatwaves. Officials are now studying the effect of high heat on our state’s economy. One big area of concern is the impact on worker safety. Although California has some of the most comprehensive outdoor heat workplace safety standards in the entire country, enforcement gaps remain.
A new study from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth linked heat to approximately 20,000 workplace injuries in California alone. Researchers looked at weather records and zip-code-related workers’ compensation claims for a 17-year period. In California, they found a spike in work injury cases when workers were exposed to outdoor heat in excess of 85 degrees.
An Enormous Cost for Our State’s Workers
The study found that elevated outdoor heat (85 to 105 degrees) raises the risk of a workers’ compensation claim by somewhere between 10% and 15%. While that may not seem like a sharp increase in the risk, the impact across the entire California workers’ compensation system is dramatic. Unfortunately, workers bear a high burden.
The researchers found that recovering from these injuries costs an average of $35,000.00 per worker when accounting for healthcare and wages. The annual economic burden of heat-related injuries in California is estimated to be as much as $875 million. The study also finds that heat contributes to injuries typically not associated with high temperatures, including falls from heights and machinery accidents. In other words, heat-related illnesses are not the only safety threat.
Employers Can Reduce Costs By Putting Proper Outdoor Heat Safety Policies in Place
California has outdoor heat safety standards that employers must follow. For companies and organizations, there is an opportunity to reduce costs and liability risks by putting comprehensive heat safety policies in place. By establishing robust policies, such as mandatory hydration breaks, provision of shade, and heat illness prevention training, businesses can reduce the incidence of heat-related injuries. Proactive steps not only safeguard worker health but also minimize the potential financial impact associated with a workers’ comp claim.
Get Help From Our Bakersfield Workers’ Compensation Defense Lawyer Today
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our Bakersfield workers’ compensation attorneys are devoted to top-tier legal representation. We help our clients find solutions that work. Give us a call now or connect with us online to set up your strictly confidential case review. With a law office in Bakersfield, we provide workers’ comp defense representation in Kern County and throughout the wider region.