The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is citing UPS for violating workplace safety standards by not air conditioning their vehicles.
According to an NBC investigation published in July, more than 100 UPS employees were hospitalized for serious heat-related injuries between 2015 and 2018. The number of injuries is higher than any other company in the country except the U.S. Postal Service.
The reason for this large number of heat-related hospitalizations is the agency’s vehicle and warehouse conditions. Although UPS employs almost 400,000 workers – this includes over 74,000 delivery drivers – the agency does not air condition most of its warehouses or its brown delivery trucks. During an average workday, UPS cargo areas can reach up to 150 degrees.
On August 23, 2019, OSHA cited UPS for exposing employees to excessive heat on delivery routes in Beach Country Florida during two days in June when the heat index hit as high as 104.7 and 108.68 degrees. The citation notes state that “such exposures may lead to the development of serious heat-related illnesses such as, but not limited to, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and death.”
UPS faces $13,260 in penalties, which is the maximum penalty allowed by law for a serious violation, according to an OSHA press release.
UPS intends to contest the citation and has vigorously disputed accusations from employees and previously published NBC News reports. UPS claims that the heat-related hospitalizations uncovered by the NBC News’ investigation affected less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the company’s driver workforce.
Despite the agency’s dispute, advocates applauded the citation and called for more actions to be made to protect workers from heat-related injuries.
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