A U.S. Postal Service carrier died Tuesday as much of Texas has encountered dangerously extreme heat.
Eugene Gates died while making deliveries in the Dallas area. Gates was a 40-year employee of USPS, the outlet reported.
KXAS-TV said a cause of death has not been determined but reported heat could be a factor.
The National Weather Service reported a high temperature of 96 at Dallas’ Love Field on Tuesday. The heat index reached 115 for several hours.
USPS released a statement on Wednesday following the carrier’s death.
“The Postal Service is deeply saddened by the loss of life suffered yesterday involving a Lakewood Post Office Letter Carrier,” USPS said. “Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this time.”
The issue of protecting carriers at USPS and elsewhere has been a growing issue in recent years. UPS employees recently . One of the union’s main sticking points is better access to air conditioning and ventilation for UPS workers.
urged its members to familiarize themselves with the Heat Illness Prevention Program.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited USPS multiple times in the last decade for violating workplace safety standards due to heat-related illnesses and deaths.
According to OSHA, USPS was cited in 2019, months after a carrier died in Southern California in 2018. OSHA said the carrier experienced hyperthermia as the outdoor temperature reached 117 degrees.
“The U.S. Postal Service knows the dangers of working in high-heat conditions and is required to address employee safety in these circumstances,” said then OSHA Oakland Area Office Director Amber Rose in 2019. “USPS is responsible for establishing work practices to protect mail carriers who work outdoors from the hazards of extreme temperatures.”
In 2016, OSHA cited USPS after multiple carriers reported heat-related illnesses that summer. One Iowa mail carrier asked to be relieved after walking halfway through her 11-mile route in 93-degree heat. Another carrier that summer was hospitalized after walking 5 miles when the heat index reached 111 degrees in Illinois, OSHA reported.
OSHA also issued a citation in 2013 after carrier James Baldassarre died after walking his route for five hours when heat indices reached 100 degrees in Arkansas.
USPS has not responded to questions over what policy changes it made in response to these alleged violations.
A request for comment was left with the National Association of Letter Carriers.