Injury From Exposure To Heat And Cold
An employee who
suffers from heat or cold must prove that his injury is unique and
specific to his job. If the general public is subject to the same
harm, the employee can’t claim that he suffered a work related injury.
For example if an earthquake levels a city and an employee is injured,
that employee is not entitled to benefit because he was at work when
the earthquake hit. He encountered the same danger that the whole town
encountered. But if he can prove that he was more susceptible because
of some work condition, then he is entitled to benefits.
Exposure to extreme
temperature may result in injuries ranging from sunstroke to freezing
and pneumonia. These injuries arise out of employment if they result
from risks increased by employment duties. Alternatively, risks
inherent in extreme weather presented to the public at large and
independent of specific employment duties do not arise out of
For example, freezing
weather presents a slight risk of pneumonia to the general public and
a great risk of pneumonia to employees working outdoors for extended
periods of time. Generally, employers argue that an employee who was
injured from the cold was subject to the same harm as the general
public and therefore he/she is not entitled to benefits. Some courts
have agreed and ruled that way.
courts instead use a mere cross section of the general public as a
control group for what should be an analysis of the entire public in
general. The following cases are illustrative.
One case involved an
outdoor laborer suffering from a heat stroke during his shift. The
court inquired as to whether his employment presents a risk of heat
stroke beyond the risk encountered by the general public. The court
denied benefits to the injured employee on the basis that the average
member of the public encountered the same risk, since it was a hot day
in the area. The court failed to recognize that while the average
member of the public may encounter the same weather, the average
member of the public is not pushing a wheel borrow filled with sand
under the direct sun, and instead is having iced tea in the shade.
The fallacy in the
case above leaks into analysis of injury caused by risk of attack. One
case involved a night watchman attacked for personal reasons while
patrolling his secluded place of employment. The court inquired as to
whether the man was subject to a greater risk than other night
security guards patrolling secluded areas. However, the more accurate
inquiry is whether night patrolmen as a class of employees are subject
to greater risks of attack than are members of the general public. The
answer to this inquiry is clearly yes, since members of the general
public are usually not hanging around secluded areas at night while
they are alone.