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Delivery drivers sounding alarm over dangerous heat

Viral video shows Scottsdale UPS driver collapsing on doorstep
Posted at 4:24 AM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 18:04:32-04

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Ring doorbell video that shows a Scottsdale UPS delivery driver collapsing in the triple-digit heat has gone viral. It's bringing attention to the dangerous conditions these workers face every day.

"(The) fact of the matter is that no amount of training can prepare your body for 160 degrees, 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week," says one UPS driver who spoke with ABC15 anonymously, saying the way they're treated is inhumane.

UPS trucks don’t have air conditioning in them due to frequent stops.

"Every week drivers are dropping like flies due to heat conditions and UPS is killing drivers because of this,” says the UPS driver.

He tells us when a driver experiences heat exhaustion, they are sent home with no treatment and medical care is up to them.

“There's been several times where I’ve woken up in the middle of the night, cramping up, my legs cramping, my hand is cramping. I’m telling my wife I can't sleep because I'm having these issues and I end up having to call out the next day because it's clearly not safe for me to come back to work. And UPS will reprimand me,” says the UPS driver.

Heat is the number one weather-related killer. In Maricopa County, there have been 17 confirmed heat deaths so far this year.

The wife of another Valley driver hopes she never gets that type of call.

“He's thrown up a few times just this summer alone and has felt really nasty. He’s come home and full spasms, like muscle spasms, super dehydrated with heat rash, everything,” says the wife of another UPS driver.

The heat in Arizona is in the triple digits, meaning the inside of those trucks is even hotter. ABC15 received pictures from Valley drivers showing 130 degrees in one truck and 161 degrees in another. Now, drivers are coming together to demand change.

“Most importantly, we'd like to have air conditioning at least in the back of our trucks because that's mainly where the damage is being done,” says a driver.

We did reach out to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the union that represents UPS drivers. Karla Schumann, the secretary and treasurer for the Phoenix division, sent us a statement: “Arizona heat is a serious issue for our members. Every safety precaution should be taken to ensure our members' health and well-being.”

UPS sent the following two statements related to this story Wednesday afternoon:

“We appreciate the concern for our employee and can report that he is fine. UPS drivers are trained to work outdoors and for the effects of hot weather. Our employee used his training to be aware of his situation and contacted his manager, who immediately provided assistance. We never want our employees to continue working to the point that they risk their health or work in an unsafe manner. UPS believes that preparation, rest, hydration and maintaining good health practices are key to working outdoors. For example, our “Cool Solutions” program focuses on educating employees about hydration, along with nutrition and proper sleep before working in hotter temperatures. We have morning meetings with drivers all year round, reminding them of forecast temperatures and encouraging them to be aware of their own health conditions. In the summer, in addition to providing water and ice for employees, we provide regular heat illness and injury prevention training to all operations managers and drivers.”

"We are greatly concerned about the health and safety of our employees. We never want our employees to continue working to the point that they risk their health or work in an unsafe manner. If an employee ever feels ill for any reason, they are instructed to stop what they are doing and notify their delivery center management. If they need assistance, local UPS personnel will respond by coming to their location to help them return to their delivery center or arrange immediate medical assistance at their location. We also offer our employees multiple ways to share their concerns with us without fear of retaliation, and we promptly address issues when they are brought to our attention. An example is our Comprehensive Health and Safety Process (CHSP), a collaboration between UPS’s hourly employees and management that meets regularly throughout our operation to discuss health and safety.

As we previously shared, UPS drivers are trained to work outdoors and for the effects of hot weather. Drivers do not spend prolonged periods of time inside the truck, as they are making a stop on average every 2-3 minutes. With each stop, the engine is shut off and the doors are secured. The A/C system would be shut off with each stop.

We have a dedicated team of more than 600 health and safety professionals who review work practices and ensure health awareness. We believe that preparation, rest, hydration and maintaining good health practices are key to working outdoors. Our “Cool Solutions” program was developed with both Federal and State OSHA personnel and focuses on educating employees about hydration, along with nutrition and proper sleep before working in hotter temperatures. We have morning meetings with drivers all year round, reminding them of forecast temperatures and encouraging them to be aware of their own health conditions. In the summer, in addition to providing water and ice for employees, we provide regular heat illness and injury prevention training to all operations managers and drivers."