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Workplace injuries: Heat jeopardizes health of Iowa mail carriers

The health and safety of Iowa workers in different fields of employment are at risk during the summer months. Although workplace injuries are prevalent throughout the year, exposure to excessive heat can cause severe illness. Heat exhaustion can even be fatal. One group of workers that are particularly vulnerable is mail carriers of the U.S. Postal Service.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Iowa post offices have been issued 28 citations for safety violations so far this year. The Des Moines Post Office is one of those penalized after two of its employees suffered heat-related illnesses. In one case a mail carrier landed in an emergency room after being exposed to excessive heat on his rounds.

Another mail carrier had to abandon her 11-mile route and go home after she was severely affected by the 93-degree heat in which she was working. She needed three days to recover sufficiently to return to work. According to the U.S. Postal Service, its carriers must protect themselves against weather conditions on their delivery rounds. They should dress appropriately, take along water and ice and move into shaded areas whenever possible.

Whenever workplace injuries or occupational illnesses require medical treatment and cause absences from work, the financial stability of the victims is jeopardized. Fortunately, benefit claims may be filed with the Iowa workers' compensation insurance system. In cases such as these in which the victims are employees of the U.S. Postal Service, coverage will be provided under the Federal Employees Compensation Act. The injured or ill workers will be entitled to be reimbursed for all the medical bills -- including all doctor bills, and medication which are obtained relating to the injury or illness. 

Source: iowapublicradio.org, "Des Moines Mail Carriers Suffer Heat Illness, Post Office Cited By OSHA", Sarah Boden, Oct. 6, 2016

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