With record highs in California temperatures this month, all outdoor workers are at risk of suffering heat exhaustion. The surviving family members of a 63-year-old postal worker whose death might have been heat-related will likely seek financial assistance through the workers' compensation insurance program of the state. Reportedly, the woman worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 28 years.
According to authorities, the woman was delivering mail in sweltering temperatures before her lifeless body was found in her vehicle. They suspect that exposure to excessively high temperatures led to her death. Her son said she had been off work for some time due to a fractured ankle, and returned recently. However, this was not the first time the heat got to her, as she reportedly suffered heat stroke before.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health provide safety guidelines and urge employers to follow them. Along with providing enough cool fluids and frequent breaks in shady areas, the agency suggests workers work in pairs and watch each other for signs of heat illness. However, postal workers who work alone might not always have refreshing water to keep them hydrated, and access to cool areas might be limited, considering them getting in and out of hot vehicles. Rushing to get the day's rounds done and get out of the heat might even exacerbate the risks.
Losing a loved one in a workplace accident is naturally traumatic, even more so when surviving family members know that the death could have been prevented. The survivors' benefits that can be claimed through the California workers' compensation system may ease the financial burden. Along with benefits to cover a funeral and burial, they might receive a financial package to include lost wages.