DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - Chris Smith has been delivering the mail for eight years. He said he's been in the hospital several times with heat exhaustion.
"I'll cool myself down take a few extra minutes in between stops, cool myself down and get prepared for the next walking split.," he said.
By contract, mail carriers are allowed two ten-minute paid breaks and a 30-minute unpaid lunch each day.
The United States Postal Service says it realizes on a week like this one more rest might be required, but mail carriers tell 2 NEWS Investigates they feel pushed to not let the heat slow them down.
"There's a lot of pressure to keep moving, to keep pushing themselves, where perhaps some of their body symptoms are telling them to seek shade and cool down," John Oross, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Gem City Branch 182 told 2 NEWS Investigates.
On Tuesday, a letter carrier collapsed delivering mail in Moraine. He said he was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He told 2 NEWS Investigates, "Walking fast in heat is probably what made me pass out."
He agreed to talk with the understanding his name would not be used. He hopes to return to work Friday. He says he could face discipline for not taking the necessary precautions for such heat, though he says his immediate supervisor has been supportive.
Oross said, "It's numbers driven, data driven, this much mail, these many deliveries and you've got this much time to do it. The heat doesn't play a factor into it. So if you're not making their numbers, their projections,
so the fear of being disciplined is real, it is being issued to them."
The United States Postal Service says it takes seriously the safety of its employees. USPS spokesperson David Van Allen said, "We don't want anyone out there falling out because of heat-related illnesses."
And when asked about disciplining those who fall short in the heat, "If their health is affected, they have a health issue that needs to be addressed, then that needs to be addressed," Van Allen responded.
2 NEWS Investigates asked the carrier who collapsed, "Do you think if you hadn't felt that pressure with the clock ticking constantly you might have taken more breaks the particular day you fell?" He responded, "Perhaps. Hindsight is 20-20, so yea, I can say that. It's hard to say. It's like any other day for me. It's just go, go, go, go."
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