As Package Deliveries Surge, So Do the Risks Drivers Face From Extreme Heat
In some cases heat exposure has turned fatal for UPS workers. The family of 23-year-old Jose Cruz filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company last October after he died on the job in Waco, Texas, from an apparent heat stroke. UPS worker Stephen Michel collapsed at a facility outside Chicago in 2011 and later died in part from heat stress, though an investigation by the company found “numerous factors unrelated to work that also could have contributed” to his death.
Employees of UPS competitors face similar climate-related risks on the job. U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mail carrier Peggy Frank was found dead in her non-air-conditioned truck in July 2018, on a day when the temperature reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit. At least 93 USPS employees were hospitalized for confirmed or suspected heat-related illness from January 2015 to October 2018, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data.
Though online petitions have circulated around such incidents urging delivery companies to equip their trucks with air conditioning, many trucks in the USPS and UPS fleets aren’t equipped with it. Most FedEx trucks, which are leased, aren’t air conditioned either, but the company has said the trucks it owns do have air conditioning.