UPS drivers demand air conditioning in trucks after heat wave: ‘It’s like going to hell’

Yves gentlemen. Those dark delivery trucks are already baking ovens. And in a place like New York, buildings and sidewalks also radiate heat. The article talks about hospitalizations of drivers due to the heat and even deaths. How long will this last before UPS, Fedex and Amazon are forced to change? Will not come voluntarily. Workplace conditions were at the bottom of their priority list.

Claudia Irisarri Aponte and Samantha Maldonado. Originally posted on TCITY July 27, 2022

A UPS employee delivers packages in the Financial District, July 27, 2022. Ben Fraktenberg/THE CITY

UPS workers are turning the heat on their employer after their union said at least six package delivery drivers in the New York area fell ill at a heat-related job during last week’s heatwave.

Chris Cappadonna, 26, says he went to the emergency room for heatstroke an hour into his shift on Thursday morning in Brooklyn. According to him, with the outside temperature approaching 100 degrees, he began to have breathing problems and cramps in his hands.

He said he was moving heavy furniture in Mill Basin and “was about to pass out” when two city sanitation workers, who apparently noticed he was struggling, stopped him and came to his aid.

They let Cappadonna sit in his air-conditioned truck to cool off, and later he went to the emergency room and then to the Mt Sinai Kings Highway emergency room, he said.

“I have been working for two years and have never felt such heat. It was crazy,” Cappadonna said. “It’s just not a good situation for anyone to work in this heat.”

He and other workers say UPS management isn’t taking the necessary steps to protect them from the heat, whether it’s providing their trucks with fans or air conditioning or giving them adequate breaks during heat waves.

They are delighted that the company has invested in new automation technology, drones, surveillance cameras as well as tracking devices — but not employee convenience One worker told The CITY magazine that he was reprimanded by his boss for taking a 47-second pause to take a sip of water because it was stealing the company’s time.

UPS workers, represented by Local 804 and Teamsters Joint Council 16, will protest outside the company’s warehouse on Foster Avenue in Canarsie, Brooklyn Thursday morning, demanding the company provide air-conditioned trucks. Service can be taken for granted.

Their call comes at a time when New York State and federal regulators are taking a closer look at how to protect vulnerable workers from the ever-increasing threat of extreme heat.

UPS headquartered in Atlanta remains the largest privately owned parcel delivery company in the United States, with 450,000 delivery drivers.

A company spokesman says UPS is taking great care to keep its employees healthy in the heat.

“The health and safety of our employees is our highest priority. UPS drivers are trained to work outdoors and deal with the effects of hot weather,” UPS spokesman Matthew O’Connor said in a statement to The CITY. “Preparing, resting, hydrating, and staying healthy are the keys to working outdoors.”

“I can’t take it anymore”

Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can cause serious health complications and even death. Emissions from burning fossil fuels are causing average temperatures to rise, scientists say prediction that heat waves become longer and more frequent in the future.

“Workers need protection regardless of climate change, but climate change is definitely making everything more urgent,” said Juanita Constable, senior climate and health advocate for the National Resource Defense Council’s Healthy People and Prosperous Communities program.

Brooklyn UPS worker Angelica Dawkins, 50, was looking for a break at a nail salon last Thursday afternoon after hyperventilating while driving her truck down 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights. Exhausted, she said she fell asleep for 20 minutes before continuing her shift.

“We are told to cool down, drink water, sit in the shade – when the temperature is this high, there is no shade,” she later said in an interview. “You get to the point where you say, ‘I can’t take this anymore.'”

This month in Pasadena, California, UPS driver Esteban Chavez collapsed in his truck shortly after delivering the day’s last delivery and was later pronounced dead. His the family told local media they suspect the 24-year-old man died of heatstroke.

Two other UPS workers, one in Long Island and one in Brooklyn, say they were rushed to the hospital on Thursday and Friday with symptoms of heat stroke.

Nick Gabell, 26, delivered more than 200 packages on his route spanning central Long Island by the time he fell ill around 8 p.m. Thursday, near the end of his shift, with a headache and sweaty hands.

He was “choking like a dog,” Gabell told The CITY magazine.

According to him, paramedics called to the scene tore off his shirt and applied ice packs to him. He stayed in the hospital until 2 am and missed work that day.

Gubell is also a worker who was scolded for his water break.

And on Friday, a UPS driver in Red Hook who declined to give his name for fear of retaliation was taken to the emergency room and then to the emergency room by an on-duty colleague and supervisor after suffering a bout of dizziness. during work that day, the temperature reached 95 degrees.

“When it’s hot outside, those trucks… It’s like going to hell,” he said.

“This is a company that in the past – always – always insisted on how fast their drivers and warehouse workers could work,” Vincent Perrone, president of Teamsters Local 804, who represents UPS regional workers, told The CITY magazine Wednesday. . “It’s just production. That’s what it is.”

O’Connor, a spokesman for UPS, said in a statement, “We never want our employees to continue working to the point where they risk their health or work in an unsafe manner.”

From hot to not

Under the federal Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers must ensure that workplaces are free from hazards that could result in death or personal injury. However, almost 400 workers across the country died from heat exposure between 2010 and 2020.

“We know it’s a pretty simple equation in terms of how to keep people safe, and if someone dies at work due to a heat-related illness, it’s usually a preventable death and it’s a tragedy.” said Rachel Licker, chief climate scientist. scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists climate and energy program who made Extensive research about the dangers of heat for workers.

O’Conner, a spokesman for UPS, said the company has several methods in place to protect workers from extreme heat, including a program developed in conjunction with OSHA that promotes best practices for dealing with the heat, as well as daily briefings on the daily forecast.

He also added that the company “looked at ways to mitigate heat on our vehicles and installed ventilated forced ventilation systems to create airflow around the driver, modified the roof of the vehicles to minimize heat in the cargo area, and insulated the cab roof.” “

He also said the company provides ventilators to drivers upon request. Perrone, president of Local 804, said fans are “really rare” in fact.

OSHA started in October rule making process create an affordable federal workplace heat standard to protect people working in agriculture, construction, factories, warehouses, kitchens, and delivery.

A workplace heat standard may require workers to take paid breaks from work, as well as have access to adequate shade and potable water.

But this may take years to create a standard — there is no federal legislation to speed up the timetable — and subsequent administrations could cancel or change the standard, Licker said.

States can take the lead in providing heat-related job protection, but New York lacks specific protection measures. BUT bill introduced in the State Senate would have required employers to protect their employees from extreme heat, but it failed.

However, federal rulemaking is “shaping” New York’s statewide actions and rules for worker safety during extreme heat, according to the state. report interim recommendations for preparing for extreme heat released on Saturday.

“To really protect workers, we need a state temperature standard that places limits on dangerously low and dangerously high temperatures for workers,” said Charlene Obernauer, executive director of the New York City Occupational Safety and Health Committee.

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