RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Delivering packages is something local UPS truck driver James Trusty enjoys doing day in and day out.
James Trusty said he has been to the hospital twice, once with kidney failure, due to heat-related stress. / Source: WWBT
“UPS has provided me, my family and everyone I know who works there with a great life,” Trusty said.
But Trusty says many of those days spent driving in record-breaking heat during the summer can be brutal, especially when the truck he drives has no air conditioning.
“The front of the truck has no relief, no air conditioning, no cool air and no way to really cool off,” Trusty said.
Trusty says some weeks he spends upwards of $200 on bags of ice and extra water bottles to beat the heat.
“I sweat a lot, and I can’t put it back in me as fast as I’m losing it,” Trusty said. “I can’t keep spending $200 a week on drinks."
But Trusty’s isn’t sweating this problem out alone. There are UPS trucks all over the country running without A/C and cargo areas reach a scorching 150 degrees or more.
It’s working conditions like this that Trusty says are the reason he had to go to the hospital on more than one occasion.
“I’ve ended up in the hospital twice now because of it,” Trusty said. “I was throwing up profusely, so I drove to the hospital and my kidney’s were in failure, and I actually needed five-liter bags filled of fluid before I could pee once.”
A national analysis conducted by NBC, found that there were 107 reports in 23 states of UPS employees being admitted to the hospital for heat-related illnesses.
But UPS says the number of heat-related hospital visits cited in the analysis is just 0.9 percent of it’s 118,000 driver workforce and that pre-existing personal medical conditions contributed to several of the incidents.
They also add that air conditioning would not be effective in its small package delivery fleet, since its drivers make stops on average every two to three minutes and spend a significant portion of their time outside of the vehicle and at each stop, the engine is turned off, doors are closed and the vehicle is secured.
UPS says conventional A/C systems are not effective in cooling the large cab of delivery vehicles operating with frequent on/off engine and A/C system cycles. A/C Units in their smaller shipping trucks would be ineffective in cooling the cabs of the delivery vehicles given the amount of time drivers spend outside making deliveries.
UPS says it assists drivers and other employees who work in hot locations by providing training and awareness, bottled water, ice, cooling towels and other assistance to operate safely in outdoor conditions.
But Trusty says it’s not enough.
“I’m very thankful for the job I have the company is great, but the environment we work in is not and that’s tough,” Trusty said.
Despite this, Trusty still loves his job and hopes UPS can work more with employees to get them more relief from the heat otherwise he’s not sure how long he’ll last.
“I’m not going to be able to do this for 30 years if this is the kind of summer I go through every year,” Trusty said.
In a statement UPS said that they appreciate the contributions made by its entire workforce, but believe employees must share responsibility for maintaining their health and readiness for work.
UPS says that it does not condone any of its employees to keep working to the point that they risk their health and that If an employee ever feels ill for any reason, they are to stop and notify their delivery center management.
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