Most years, the temperatures exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit for at least a few days in August, and not just in the Sun Belt; the New York metropolitan area, including the New Jersey suburbs, has been feeling the heat intensely. Despite this, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that makes and enforces regulations related to workplace safety, does not have official rules about workplace exposure to extreme heat; it is in the process of drafting those rules, but it will probably be at least two more years before they are published. Meanwhile, as everyone who can afford to do so stays indoors in the air conditioning and waits for delivery drivers to bring them everything they need, the delivery drivers are suffering from the heat. UPS workers who are routinely exposed to triple-digit temperatures for extended periods during the workday are demanding better protections. Complaining about unsafe conditions in your workplace is a protected activity; if you are worried that your employer might retaliate against you if you complain about extreme heat or other dangerous conditions at your job, contact an employment lawyer.
The Dangers of Heat-Related Illness on the Job
Anyone can suffer from heat-related illness when exposed to high temperatures for a long time. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, dizziness, feelings of weakness and skin tingling, and nausea; in extreme cases, it can also cause vomiting, loss of consciousness, or even death. Certain medications increase the risk of heat-related illness. If you spend time outdoors when it is extremely hot, the best way to stay safe is to take frequent breaks to go somewhere cooler, such as a shady area or well-ventilated room, and to drink a lot of water or electrolyte replacement drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade.
Earlier this summer, a UPS delivery driver died of heat exhaustion during his shift in California, when the temperature was 110 degrees. As reported, many other drivers have become ill in similar situations.
UPS Workers Protest Unmanageable Work Schedules and Lack of Heat Protection
UPS delivery trucks and warehouses do not have air conditioning, and the workers can no longer tolerate the heat. They have asked UPS to supply fans and ice machines, but these requests are seldom fulfilled. UPS says that it is impractical to air condition the trucks since drivers must make frequent stops to open the doors and turn off the engine whenever they make a delivery. The advice to take frequent breaks rings false because the intense time pressure that UPS places on delivery drivers is well known. UPS workers are in a better position than some, however, because they at least have a union to advocate for them.
Contact a New Jersey Employment Lawyer About Unsafe Working Conditions
Excessive heat is a serious safety hazard in the workplace, and an employment lawyer can help you report it without fear of retaliation. Contact McOmber McOmber & Luber in New Jersey to discuss your case.