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Massachusetts postal worker's wrongful death caused by heat

Neither rain nor snow will stop the mailman. It's a common saying and part of the unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service. When the determination to carry on, no matter what the Massachusetts weather brings, results in a wrongful death, that saying may require some tweaking.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited the USPS for failing to have an adequate program in place that educated postal workers about the dangers of working outside when the thermometer hits high numbers. The ruling came after a Massachusetts postal worker suffered extreme heat stroke and died. The man collapsed after delivering mail for roughly five hours. The 90-plus degree temperature was thought to be the main contributing factor.

The Postal Service has a program in place to inform its workers about the hazards of working in extreme heat. It is designed to help them understand heat-related issues and outlines ways to determine if and when those issues should be given more attention. OSHA's ruling claims the program is not adequate for what is needed.

Officials at the Postal Service disagreed publicly with the OSHA citation. They say the safety of their workers is their top priority. They claim they have programs and education in place designed to protect the thousands of people who work in diverse and unpredictable environments every day.

Extreme conditions at the workplace demand education and training for the employees who have to deal with them daily. When that fails, and a wrongful death occurs, the decedent's family may want to consider further action against the employer in addition to any claims for workers' compensation survivor benefits they may be able to make. A thorough understanding of their options for filing a wrongful death claim could help them move forward as they deal with their pain and grief.

Source: WCVB Boston, OSHA cites Postal Service in letter carrier's July heat death, Veronica Haynes, Dec. 17, 2013

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