Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

The Labor Department only fines businesses on average $8,500 when a worker dies from a heat-related illness

July 17, 2023


As record-setting heat consumes parts of the United States this summer, people who work outdoors are facing serious threats to their lives.

Heat-related illness and death were already becoming more common among workers in the United States. The three-year average of heat-related worker deaths has doubled since 1990, a 2021 report from NPR and Columbia Journalism Investigations revealed.

And with the death of US Postal Service carrier Eugene Gates Jr. last month in Dallas on a day when the heat index reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit, many workers and their families are on edge. A 46-year-old construction worker named Felipe Pascual also died in June in Houston from heat stroke.

Businesses must stop placing profit and efficiency over worker safety, said Richard Gleason, an associate teaching professor on workplace safety and occupational health at the University of Washington, especially in excessive heat.

“There has got to be some extra emphasis on responsibility and liability,” he said.

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