California workers whose jobs expose them to excessive heat or strenuous physical jobs could develop rhabdomyolysis. The condition could follow workplace injuries that damaged muscles or the breakdown of dead muscles released into a worker’s blood. When that happens, electrolytes and proteins could harm internal organs.
Occupations that pose higher risks of causing rhabdo include wildland and structural firefighters, military service members, farm workers, construction workers and police officers. Typical causes include increased body temperatures in workers in hot environments, both outside and indoors, while wearing personal protective equipment that traps body heat. Excessive physical exertion could cause rhabdo and traumatic injuries suffered in on-the-job accidents. These accidents include muscle damage caused by car accidents or falls from heights.
At-risk workers should look out for symptoms and see a doctor. If they leave it too long, internal organ damage might already have occurred. Symptoms include feeling unusually tired and weak, muscle cramps, pains or aches that seem more severe than would be expected. Dark urine can also indicate the presence of rhabdo.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health warns that some workers’ symptoms could only become evident several days after a muscle injury occurred. Workers whose employers do not have heat stress prevention policies in place are significantly more vulnerable than those who manage heat stress. California workers are entitled to see doctors if they suffered workplace injuries or when they suspect they have rhadbo symptoms. They are also eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses, and if their conditions cause lost workdays, they may even claim lost wages.