The U.S. Postal Service is being fined a proposed total of nearly $150,000 for the heat-related death of a Woodland Hills mail carrier who died after working in 117-degree weather with no air conditioner in her vehicle last summer, federal officials said Thursday.
Peggy Frank had worked for the Postal Service for 28 years before she was found dead inside her mail truck on July 6, 2018. The 63-year-old suffered hyperthermia while delivering mail in triple-digit heat, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed penalties against the Postal Service totaling $149,664, saying the agency has failed to ensure the safety of employees and repeatedly violated record-keeping requirements related to heat stress incidents.
As of fall 2017, the agency had more than 230,000 mail carrying vehicles and an estimated 63,000-plus have air conditioning, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
Last week, Rep. Tony Cárdenas of the San Fernando Valley said he plans to introduce a bill that would ensure all the agency’s vehicles have air conditioning.
“For any vehicle that is owned by the federal government not to have this simple technology … is just unconscionable,” Cárdenas told the Southern California News Group last Friday, according to the Daily News.
Frank had suffered heat stroke the previous summer and had just returned to work after taking time off due to a broken ankle, loved ones have told KTLA.
“I cannot believe it because I don’t think that it should have happened,” said her sister, Lynn Calkins. “I’m so sad because she was going to retire soon. Now she can’t.”
“They need to start caring about their people a little bit more,” Calkins said of the Postal Service.
After Frank’s death, a representative for the Postal Service said the safety of employees “is always a priority.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the employee’s family at this time,” a statement from the representative said.
The agency has 15 days from when it received the citations to comply, contest the department’s findings or request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, according to federal officials.