OSHA proposes $46,600 in penalties for USPS exposing mail carrier to excessive heat

OSHA proposes $46,600 in penalties for USPS exposing mail carrier to excessive heat

Iowa postal facility exposes mail carrier to excessive heat, proposes $46,600 in penalties

Employer name: U.S. Postal Service, Ottumwa, Iowa

Citations issued: Oct. 23, 2015

Investigation findings: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Des Moines Area Office cited the postal facility for three safety and health violations, one repeated, one serious and one other-than-serious.

The citations follow a July 2015 OSHA investigation of a complaint alleging a mail carrier reported experiencing heat illness symptoms and requested relief from completing his route on June 10. OSHA’s investigation found the carrier was directed to complete the route, despite feeling ill. The heat index that afternoon exceeded 100 degrees. The continued exposure put the employee in imminent danger of further illness. During its investigation, the agency found that a mail carrier was hospitalized for heat illness on July13. The carrier had also asked for relief due to feeling ill, and was directed to complete the route.

OSHA cited the employer for one repeated violation for exposing workers to excessive heat while delivering the mail. USPS was cited for a similar violation in Independence, Missouri, after a worker died of heat related illness in 2014. OSHA also found carriers could not readily summon emergency assistance.

OSHA has a heat safety campaign to educate employers and workers about heat-related illness and a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites.

Quote: “When a worker says they are experiencing heat related illness and need assistance, employers must respond and take appropriate precautions. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can quickly become heat stroke, and that can be deadly,” said Larry Davidson, OSHA’s area director in Des Moines.

Proposed Penalties: $46,600

View Citations here*

17 thoughts on “OSHA proposes $46,600 in penalties for USPS exposing mail carrier to excessive heat

  1. I’m a steward and have to deal with management all the time. Carriers have far more rights then management will ever let you know. People don’t realize that the only time you can deny a direct order is for safety and health. So when management tells you that they give you a direct order, you can say “I don’t feel safe.” and bring the mail back. We only become stronger by knowing the rules so we can fight back

    • with the time change coming tonight, many of us will be working in the dark in the coming weeks when we have splits to cover. They have moved our starting times back in many offices, Mine is 8:30 which means we are due off at 5PM. Overtime will throw us into darkness as winter approaches. Management doesn’t seem to be concerned with our safety as they constantly say ” if you want this job, you better do as you’re told”

  2. Postal management has never cared about their employees! Never have, never will. How many times, when an employee is injured, has been disciplined for unsafe work practice? The employee is just a low life thing to perform needed labor! A thing that is not really a human being!

  3. Wow who hasn’t been over heated delivering mail ??? Don’t matter if you tell someone either not like we have carriers just sitting around.

  4. I knew OSHA’s Larry Davidson when he was a Compliance Officer in St Louis. He was a great person, very unbiased and fair. He would not make a decision like that lightly.

  5. From closing there eyes to heat related issue’s to dirty air vents and dust. To carrier,s working over a 60 hour work weeks 7 days a week. And being disciplined if calling out ill. Respect is not herd of, and pushing carriers and humiliating them is expected of supervisory staff. The stress level is high and moral is low.

    • Amen. I passed out in an air conditioned pov. I went to hospital I couldn’t see. It took a week to feel myself again 115 degrees plus for a week and half here this past June til July 2014 Fay.,NC

  6. Working in extreme weather is, as Martin suggests, part of the job. However, sometimes conditions get so brutal that carriers do get sick and a few have died from heat stroke. That is not part of the job. If, Martin, you passed out and made no attempt to seek medical assistance when you clearly needed it, that is your fault. You should know after all your years of service that management couldn’t give a rat’s ass less about the welfare of their numbers, I mean, carriers. I’m all for loyalty and doing my best, but you have to draw a common sense line somewhere. I too had a mild heat stroke on a walking route during a typical horrendously hot humid summer, and I missed work for a couple days.
    The inside of an LLV can get much hotter than 110 degrees. One carrier had a thermometer he put in the back end and that reading was 125 degrees! The deck gets too hot to touch, the engine continues to blow hot air year around, and the paint from the steering wheel comes off on your hands. Add to that the factor of age. The workforce is aging, and you do not tolerate the extremes as well. We’re still tougher than boiled owls compared to people who don’t work outdoors for a living, but I know after 31 years the hottest time of year and coldest are harder on me than when I was a young buck.
    Here’s something every carrier must know: Article 14 of the NALC National Agreement clearly states that management may not, at any time, force a carrier to work in conditions that are either too dangerous, such as being out after dark in a very bad part of a city, or icy and snow covered roads after dark, or that force a carrier to violate medical restrictions, which must be documented.
    Heat is something that can’t be helped; we’d have no mail in the south particularly from May to September if we didn’t work in weather above 90 degrees. However, you cannot be forced to continue working when signs of dehydration and sunstroke start to appear. If you stop sweating, get dizzy and weak, have difficulty breathing or nauseous, you must seek a way to get out of the heat. Call your supervisor and tell them you are bringing mail back. Let ’em bitch. Go to your doctor so he or she can help you and support your claim.
    Management does have some folks like in my office who actually do care when one of us has a problem and work with us. We appreciate that, too. If you aren’t lucky enough to have supervisors who at least occasionally treat you like a human being, then you’re a number and you’re inconveniencing them. That’s their attitude.
    Just to show how indifferent they can be, let me share a true story from a few years back at a nearby plant. One morning a truck driver backed his semi up to the loading dock where he would get the cages for a few cities with flats and DPS.
    He was feeling pretty bad, and one of the mail handlers noticed, and told him to go into the break room and sit down for a few minutes. Tragically, the driver suffered a fatal heart attack right there. One of the employees ran to get the supervisor, who stomped into the break room, saw the poor fellow either slumped over the table or in the floor, I don’t know which, knew he was dead and exclaimed, “Well, this is just great. Where am I going to get another truck driver?”
    If I had been the postmaster, I would have fired him on the spot. But that’s how far too many of them regard us. You have to look out for yourself because they sure won’t.

    • that’s compassion for you. A person has just lost his life and he’s worried about finding another truck driver

  7. This summer the temperature inside my mail truck was 110 degrees in super humid environment (Tampa Bay Area)

  8. We were told at our plant that as long as we had access to a water fountain, there could be no threat of heat injuries so long as WE acted responsibly!

    • Unfortunately you are so very right. And it WON’T be changing any time soon. It’s what they do. 🙁

  9. Unfortunately, this is Standard Operating Procedure for the USPS and happens all the time. As a 30 year mail carrier, I’ve watched countless workers call for relief only to be directed to continue or possibly face discipline. One carrier, who seemed quite susceptible to heat ailments, was in fact written up after going to the E.R. and missing the next day of work after an episode. The post office will make service talks to employees a requirement to cover their back sides, but this dangerous pattern will continue!

    • The same applies to excessive cold. I carried for 15 years. I seen carriers lose fingers because some stupid supervisor had a hidden agenda; getting that bonus. It is the most bizarre work environment ever.I really believe that there is a special section set aside for postal management in…Hell!! No one should be treated the way that carriers are treated!

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