Workers' comp: Mail carriers at risk for heat-related illnesses

There are a variety of different aspects that significantly impact a worker's health in California. While most people who consider issues that could ultimately result in a workers' comp claim likely think first of an injury caused by a fall or piece of equipment, for instance, many workers face harm due to weather-related issues. Specifically, mail carriers can face serious harm as a result of extreme heat.

Unfortunately, workers who are exposed to high temperatures can quickly become ill if proper precautions are not taken. Supervisors who may not fully realize these risks may minimize certain symptoms. However, those suffering from heat can quickly go from relatively mild discomfort to a serious medical situation.

The high temperatures are frequently exacerbated by vehicles that lack air conditioning. In fact, some reports indicate that 70% of USPS delivery trucks were without air conditioning in 2017. Additionally, those who are walking on foot are burdened by the heavy loads that they are required to carry as part of their work responsibilities.

Unfortunately, from Jan. 2015 to Oct. 2018, 93 USPS employees experienced a hospitalization as a result of suspected heat-related issues; a similar number of employees of the United Parcel Service were also hospitalized. Scientists believe that the number of deaths due to heat will increase as heat waves worsen. Unfortunately, a hospitalization can place a worker at risk for financial harm in California and across the country as she or he copes with medical expenses and lost wages. However, if their injuries are the result of completing their job-related tasks, they may qualify for workers' comp benefits that will help them during their recovery.

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