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Dec 29

Iowa postal facility exposes mail handler to excessive heat

snow-mailWASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Des Moines Area Office cited the U.S. Postal Service, Ottumwa, Iowa 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.

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.

There was a proposed penalty of $46,600.

View Citations here.

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