Heat stroke suspected in death of Kansas City landscape worker

Updated Sep 30, 2016
Staying hydrated can help protect workers during hot conditions.Staying hydrated can help protect workers during hot conditions.

A 47-year-old landscape worker was found dead at a new housing project in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the case.

An employee of Briggs Traditional Turf Farm, the man had been prepping and laying sod last Thursday at the housing development.

According to a police report, a co-worker noticed the man lying down and asked if he was OK. The man said that he was fine but didn’t feel right and was taking a break.

The man was found dead four hours later. Preliminary reports have stated he died of a heat stroke after working outdoors on a day when the heat index reached 105 degrees.

Todd Seileman, OSHA’s acting director in Kansas City, said employers are responsible for protecting their employees, inside or out.

Fulfilling that responsibility, Seileman told KMBC 9, involves “not just recognizing that heat is a problem, but understanding those measures that can be taken and training employees as to recognizing the hazards and symptoms and understanding what they’re facing.”

Regardless of how the investigation ends, OSHA sees the case as a good reminder to all outdoor workers to stay hydrated, seek shade and rest when needed.

This is the second recent heat-related death in the landscaping industry. In late July, a 23-year-old worker became overheated in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and died.

The young man had been working as part of a three-man crew trimming trees. According to OSHA, he became overheated at 4:30 p.m. when the heat index reached 110 degrees. He had been working since 7 a.m.

He was hospitalized with a core temperature of 108 on July 22 and died the following day. It was only his fourth day working for Townsend Tree Service, based in Muncie, Indiana.

New workers who have not adjusted to hot conditions are especially susceptible to heat-related illnesses, but all employees are at risk during a heat wave.

OSHA suggests drinking water every 15 minutes, resting in the shade and wearing light-colored clothing. For more tips on heat safety, click here.

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