There is a basic set of conditions that must be met to ensure the safety and health of employees — no matter the industry. In North Carolina, summers can get blistering hot, so many indoor work environments may need to be equipped with an air conditioner to prevent workers from falling ill due to heat-related conditions.

Employees at one McDonald’s location are protesting the conditions they’ve been subjected to as a result of a failing air conditioner. The workers were inspired to walk off the job after one of their co-workers collapsed and was hospitalized for a workplace illness precipitated by the searing conditions. In fact, employees indicate that the air conditioning fails every summer.

Although this particular incident took place in another state, the McDonald’s employees dealt with a problem that may be familiar to many people in Guildford County. In the event a heat-related illness contracted on the job, workers’ compensation benefits may be provided to help support the employee while he or she recovers and transitions back to work.

Knowing that the air-conditioning system at this particular McDonald’s has crashed several times, it seems as though restaurant management should have been able to predict what would happen again this summer.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for enforcing basic workplace safety standards. If an investigation is conducted at a particular workplace and the agency uncovers safety violations, the employer can be fined for failing to maintain a safe work environment. Unfortunately, this enforcement mechanism isn’t always enough to get employers to play by the rules, which is when accidents and illnesses can strike.

Source: New York Daily News, “McDonald’s workers strike after air-conditioner fails, colleague hospitalized,” Nicholle Buckley and Larry McShane, July 19, 2013