UPS drivers around the country are in danger due to the inescapable heatwave plaguing the entire planet. That heat is exceptionally problematic for UPS drivers — and many of their trucks don’t have air conditioning. Fox Weather reports incidents where drivers have passed out or died due to the heat have forced UPS drivers to speak up and rally for change.
Attention to incidents from the current heatwave’s dangerous conditions began in early July when Esteban Chavez Jr., a 24-year-old UPS delivery driver in Pasadena, California, collapsed and died from heat stroke and dehydration during his shift. A few weeks later, a Ring camera in Arizona captured another UPS driver collapsing after delivering an envelope. You can watch as he wobbles his way to the door, sets down the package and falls right over.
As high temperatures hit every part of the country, UPS workers and families are shining a light on dangerous conditions in both the delivery trucks and warehouses. This online petition was started, demanding A/C in UPS trucks. The woman behind the petition — a nurse who said her husband, a UPS driver, had a heat-related illness caused by the hot conditions he would work in. As of writing this, that petitions has over a million signatures.
The increase in heat-related illnesses and now, deaths, have also gained the attention of the Teamsters Union, which represents UPS workers all over the country. According to Union Rep Richard Hooker Jr., out of Philadelphia-based Teamsters Local 623, the heat problem isn’t necessarily a new issue, but the workers’ and public’s attention is growing along with these blistering heatwaves: “We are seeing it all across the country. If these members had air conditioning not only in the cars but in the warehouses, then you wouldn’t hear about losing a life or passing out because of the heat.”
UPS issued a statement to FOX Weather, that says a bit of everything and nothing at the same time:
“We believe that preparation, rest, hydration and maintaining good health practices are key to working outdoors. For example, 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. We never want our employees to continue working to the point that they risk their health or work in an unsafe manner.”
From that statement, it’s difficult to discern if the programs are used by all drivers and sites. And how hot does it need to be before A/C becomes one of the standard additions to keep drivers cool in 90 to 100+ degree temperatures?
As a disclaimer, I worked at UPS for almost two years in the early 2010’s, and my dad retired from there last year after 30+ years. Working for “Brown” to get your packages to you is hard work and it does get quite hot. In the summer, if it was 100 degrees outside, it easily reads 115+ inside the warehouse. Trucks are the same — getting so hot my glasses refused to stay on my face from all the sweat. Trucks are at least equipped with fans, but they truly don’t do much.
It’s hard to say what UPS’s stance will be on getting air conditioning into their brown trucks. But until the delivery company has a definitive solution for these overheating conditions, the next few weeks will see large rallies planned by the Teamsters in both Philadelphia and New York City — as drivers continue to bring more awareness to the dangers they face on the job.