A North Texas postal worker named Eugene Gates Jr. passed away on June 20 due to the extreme heat in the area. As a result, changes have been made to the start time of USPS shifts in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
Going forward, postal workers will begin their shifts at 7:30 a.m. to avoid the dangerous temperatures that led to Gates’ untimely death. On the day of the incident, the heat indexes were as high as 124 degrees, and Gates collapsed on his route. A homeowner who witnessed the event acted as an on-call supervisor and performed CPR.
Despite being rushed to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Gates passed away. The exact cause of death has not yet been identified by the medical examiner, but the incident prompted USPS to take action to ensure the safety of their workers.
“The Postal Service is deeply saddened by the loss of life suffered yesterday involving a Lakewood Post Office Letter Carrier,” the USPS told multiple outlets in a statement. “Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this time.”
When employees are at risk due to heat concerns, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) intervenes. OSHA is a regulatory agency within the United States Department of Labor that enforces workplace safety and health standards.
According to Huffington Post, between 2010 and 2018, OSHA fined the Postal Service more than 1.3 million dollars for heat-related issues. The Postal Service was able to reduce penalties to a few thousand dollars or even nothing by agreeing to address the problems.
During the summer, postal workers like Gates face dangerous heat waves without proper protection. Some workers have no cooling mechanisms during their routes, and they drive old company-owned delivery trucks in temperatures as high as 150 degrees, as reported by The New York Times.