USPS cited by OSHA for heat-related death of Medford, MA. mail carrier

oshalogoCited for inadequate heat stress program and communication of heat hazards to carriers

ANDOVER, Mass. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the U.S. Postal Service for a serious safety violation in connection with the heat-related death of a letter carrier from the Forest Street post office in Medford.

“Heat stress illnesses and fatalities can be prevented with knowledge. Knowing how to recognize and respond to symptoms can save a life,” said Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA’s area director for Middlesex and Essex counties in Massachusetts. “In this case, the Postal Service had such information, but failed to communicate it to letter carriers, so they could protect themselves. Had this been done, this tragedy could have been prevented.”

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photo credit: James Baldassarre via wcvbtv

James Baldassarre collapsed on July 5 after walking his route for about five hours in 94-degree heat with a heat index in excess of 100 degrees. He carried a mail bag weighing up to 35 pounds. The area was under a heat advisory from the National Weather Service. Baldassarre died the next day as a result of heat stroke.

OSHA’s investigation found that the Postal Service exposed workers to the recognized hazard of working in excessive heat by failing to implement an adequate heat stress management program that would have addressed and informed mail carriers of how to identify, prevent and report symptoms of heat-related illnesses.

The citation includes suggested feasible means to address the hazard including adequately implementing a heat stress management program tailored to the particulars of the work performed by mail carriers. An effective program would contain measures to address the recognized hazard of exposure to excessive heat and it would train workers to recognize, prevent, respond to and report heat-related illnesses.

The citation, which carries a proposed fine of $7,000, the maximum fine that can be assessed for a serious violation, can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/USPS917092.pdf*. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Information about OSHA’s campaign to prevent heat-related illnesses among outdoor workers can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/heat. OSHA also has a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. It is available for download on Android-based platforms and the iPhone at http://www.osha.gov/heatapp.

The Postal Service has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Andover office at 978-837-4460.

11 thoughts on “USPS cited by OSHA for heat-related death of Medford, MA. mail carrier

  1. Anyone notice that this Letter Carriers tragic death due to heat stroke occurred in Massachusetts? A State located in the Northeast that gets only a handful of serious Heat Waves each Summer. What about Letter Carriers that are exposed to constant 90` to 100` degree heat and high humidity conditions for 9 plus months of (every) year throughout the deep South, TX, AZ, & FL? Its just business as usual. Best solution Management has to help these Employees avoid Heat Stroke is hand off a (piece) of another route to the Carrier because their (numbers) justify “under-time”! Odd that Postal Trucks are equipped with Heater-Defrosters in the Northern Plains and Northeast but (no) Air Conditioning for those delivering in the South except for Managements Mini-Vans and the MVS Drivers Trucks.

  2. OSHA does something about this…….sure, not much, but at least something…………..meanwhile, our NALC hasn’t said nor done squat about it.

    The same NALC that didn’t have a problem with a carrier being murdered in the dark either.

    Friends like this…….

  3. What about involuntary murder charges against supervisor, PM, etc for forcing an employee to work such extreme conditions that caused death.

  4. wasn’t this the one where he told super he wasn’t feeling well and super said he couldn’t leave. If that’s me I fill out a leave slip and leave. U don’t have to obey management if its a health/safety issue.

  5. Just the cost of doing business to management and with this meager fine, it will happen again. Civil suit needs to be filed here.

  6. Rest in peace Jim, maybe some good will come from your sacrifice for letter carriers and some one’s life will be saved. Hopefully the P.O. will learn some thing from this tragedy and Jim”s death will have meaning.

  7. No surprise here, management cares not one scintilla about any carriers well being. In a recent ice storm followed by snow carriers were sent out late (so we had all the mail for the day) only to be unable to deliver it all. Customers were inquiring as to what the heck we were doing out in the first place. To paraphrase one comment, we’re not coming out to the mailbox risking our life to get some junk mail so why are they risking your lives to get it to us?!? I didn’t have the heart to tell the customer of the low value that is placed on our lives but Mr. Baldasarre’s death is proof positive of that attitude. As has so often been heard actions speak louder than words and the negligence in this case is shouting out managements view about how they value the workforce.

  8. meanwhile….the carrier is still dead and the post office ‘might’ have to pay
    a $7,000 fine??? huh, i thought a human
    life was worth more than $7,000. i guess
    i was wrong…………..

  9. Big deal.

    Nothing will be done, not one mgr will be held accountable for anything, as usual.

    But heaven forbid if a carrier misses a scan point !

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