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Massachusetts' postal worker dies from heat exposure

With the heat wave upon us in Massachusetts, it is important for workers to be aware of the dangers of heat-related illnesses and the hazards they may face on the job when the temperature rises. Heat-related illnesses can be fatal to workers and a recent case shows just how dangerous the heat can be. 

A postal worker in Massachusetts recently died after suffering a heat-related illness during his mail route. The worker was working an additional shift late in the afternoon and collapsed while delivery the mail due to the extreme heat. The worker was taken to the hospital and died the following day.

Workplace safety advocates in Massachusetts said that this workplace fatality is an example of the dangers of heat illnesses and shows that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration needs to create federal safety standards to protect workers. Safety advocates say that the safety standards should include mandatory rest breaks and access to water and shade to prevent workers from suffering a heat-related illness.

Occupational heat exposure is a very serious issue and thousands of workers in the U.S. suffer from heat exposure every year. Between 2009 and 2011, 134 workers died from occupational heat exposure, showing that many workers still face heat-related hazards in the U.S. Advocates say that workers should be trained on the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and employers need to take steps to ensure that their workers are staying safe when working in warmer temperatures.

Workers who have suffered a workplace illness or injury due to heat exposure may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits in Massachusetts. Workers should consult a personal injury attorney to discuss their specific case and how the workers' compensation process works.

Source: EHS Today, "Heat Blamed for Death of Massachusetts Postal Worker," Sandy Smith, July 8, 2013

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