OSHA fines Independence post office $70,000 for letter carrier’s July death

  • OSHA says Truman Station didn’t do enough to protect employees in the heat.

In July, Independence letter carrier John Watzlawick collapsed on his route and later died at a hospital. At the time, his family told KCTV Channel 5 that they thought he died from heat-related illness, caused by working in brutal heat all day. “They’re out there in the heat,” his wife told the station. “Nobody’s checking on them.”

It sounds like she might be right. On Monday, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that it cited the U.S. Postal Service Truman Station in Independence for willful violation for failing to protect its employees. OSHA says it found that the post office didn’t have procedures in place to keep employees working outside during heat advisories from becoming ill.

The most upsetting part of Watzlawick’s death is that OSHA has tools to prevent employees from becoming ill in the heat. According to a press release announcing the violations, OSHA released a free mobile app that’s designed to let managers and employees know when they’re in dangerous working conditions and how to prevent heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

“The application displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level,” OSHA’s release said.

The Truman Station has been assessed a $70,000 fine. It has 15 days to accept the fine or contest it.

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