OSHA: USPS forced Iowa letter carriers to work in excessive heat

From the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

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.

oshaThe 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*.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, 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 or the agency’s Des Moines Area Office at 515-284-4701.

  • Padre

    I thought Mike Behrend worked in Henderson Nv not Iowa?

  • Mailman030

    Unfortunately the Postal Service does not care how many times they get cited or how much money they have to pay. Most managers and supervisors will still ignore carriers that call in because of heat related issues. Carriers just need to take the time that it takes to deliver the mail safely and if they need to take an extra break to cool off and drink water, then that is what they need to do and not worry about the threat of discipline from their boss. Your life is worth much more to you and your family than it is to the Postal Service, we are all just numbers to them.