|NOIRA on Heat Illness Prevention
|Ended on 6/9/2021
Heat is a rising threat to workers in Virginia, placing them at risk of illness or even death. Nationally, between 1992 and 2016, at least 783 workers died of heat stress and 69,374 workers were seriously injured.1 Statistics have shown that farmworkers are twenty (20) times more likely than workers in other industries to die of heat illness.2 These numbers are most likely severe underestimates for a variety of factors. In Virginia, men accounted for 70% of visits to emergency departments and urgent care centers for heat-related illnesses during July heat events of 2019 and 2020. About 70% of those visits were in people 20-60 years old3 and it reasonable to assume that a percentage of these visits were work-related. This is supported by research done by the Science Museum of Virginia and the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services demonstrating that over 14% of summertime heat-related illnesses responded to by ambulance in Richmond from 2016-2018 were work-related. With rising temperatures associated with climate change, it is increasingly important to protect workers from heat with common sense regulations including access to water, training, breaks in cool areas and emergency preparedness plans.