WOODLAND HILLS (CBSLA) – A federal agency has fined the U.S. Postal Service nearly $150,000 for its role in the heat-related death of a 63-year-old mail carrier in Woodland Hills last summer.
On July 6, 2017, Peggy Frank was found unresponsive in her mail truck amid temperatures of up to 117 degrees Fahrenheit. Paramedics were unable to revive her and she died. Frank had worked for the Postal Service for nearly three decades and was a few years away from retirement.
In September, the L.A. County coroner determined that Frank had died of hyperthermia, or over-heating. The coroner ruled her death as accidental. The autopsy also found she had preexisting health conditions, including obesity and heart disease.
On Thursday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it had levied $149,664 against USPS. The citation was for “repeated violation of OSHA’s General Duty Clause,” the agency said in a news release.
USPS violated the “programs and procedures” required for mail carriers working in high temperatures, OSHA said. USPS also repeatedly violated “recordkeeping requirements related to recording heat stress incidents.”
Frank was survived by her two children and several grandchildren.
“To have my mom in 107 (degrees), humidity, carrying the mailbag around with no air conditioning in the car — yeah, I’m sure she’s probably going to overheat,” her son Kirk Kessler told CBS2 a few days after his mother passed.
USPS has 15 days to either pay the fine or contest the findings before the OSHA Review Commission.
“The U.S. Postal Service knows the dangers of working in high-heat conditions and is required to address employee safety in these circumstances,” said OSHA Oakland Area Office Director Amber Rose in a statement provided to CBS2. “USPS is responsible for establishing work practices to protect mail carriers who work outdoors from the hazards of extreme temperatures.”