LOS ANGELES – The United States Postal Service is facing nearly $150,000 in fines after the heat-related death of a Los Angeles mail carrier last summer.
Peggy Frank, 63, was found dead in her nonair-conditioned mail truck on July 6, the same day temperatures in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Woodland Hills hit a high of 115 degrees.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office listed Frank’s primary cause of death as hyperthermia, an abnormally high body temperature resulting from exposure to extreme heat.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the Postal Service for a failure to provide a work environment free from recognizable hazards – such as extreme heat – that are likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.
“The U.S. Postal Service knows the dangers of working in high-heat conditions and is required to address employee safety in these circumstances,” OSHA Oakland Area Office Director Amber Rose said in a news release.
The Department of Labor also cited the Postal Service for not keeping timely records of worker heat exhaustion.
During heat waves, employers should allow workers to take more frequent breaks than usual, monitor workers for signs of illness and provide employees with water, rest and shade, according to Department of Labor guidelines.
The Postal Service has 15 business days to contest OSHA’s findings or pay the fines.
Postal Service spokeswoman Evelina Ramirez said the agency is reviewing the citation but did not say whether it would contest it.
“Our thoughts and prayers are and have been with Ms. Frank’s family since this tragic incident occurred,” Ramirez wrote in an email.
This isn’t the first time the Postal Service has been accused of failing to protect an employee working in excessive heat. In 2012, the agency faced $70,000 in Department of Labor fines after a mail carrier in Independence, Mo., died of heat exposure.
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