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Statement of NALC President Brian L. Renfroe on the hazard of excessive heat

Statement of NALC President Brian L. Renfroe on the hazard of excessive heat:

America’s letter carriers often work in dangerous environments. There are numerous factors that pose threats to our safety and health on the job. Recently, violent crime has increased and resulted in injuries to letter carriers and, unfortunately, even loss of life. As we continue to utilize every possible avenue to stop this violence against our members, we are continuously reminded of another dangerous threat to the safety and health of most letter carriers – excessive heat.

Unmitigated excessive heat can cause heat stress, often resulting in serious illness or death. Unfortunately, we have seen far too many examples of this over the last several years, including in 2023. This hazard becomes a greater threat every year, as science shows that temperature and heat indices are steadily increasing.

Over the last decade, NALC has fought fiercely in a number of forums to protect letter carriers by insisting that the Postal Service create and enforce a comprehensive heat illness prevention program (HIPP) that protects our members by mitigating the hazard posed by excessive heat. We have participated in extensive litigation with the Postal Service and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as engaged the Postal Service directly to create and implement a HIPP that helps protect our members. The current USPS HIPP is available here

In 2023, all letter carriers and supervisors were required to be trained on the current HIPP by April. If any letter carrier has not received this training, please contact your shop steward, branch officer, or national business agent as soon as possible so the matter may be investigated and a grievance filed if necessary.

The most important and immediate step that can be taken to protect anyone from the hazard of excessive heat is to learn as much as possible about this potentially life-threatening hazard, particularly the warning signs of heat illness. NALC Director of Safety and Health Manny Peralta has compiled a plethora of useful information on the NALC website regarding heat safety, including the warning signs of heat stress, available here. I encourage every letter carrier to familiarize themselves with this information. Not knowing these warning signs could result in heat illness or another tragedy.

The 285,000 active and retired members of the NALC mourn the brothers and sisters that we have lost to heat illness. Their loved ones, friends, and coworkers remain in our thoughts and prayers. We also hope for a speedy recovery for all of our brothers and sisters currently suffering from heat illness.

The safety and health of our members is, and always will be, the top priority of all the members of the NALC. Together, we will continue our fight to make our jobs safer and protect our members from the ever-increasing hazard of excessive heat.