Here are the basics of one recent tragic story, according to the Houston Chronicle article:
The company had this to say:
The federal agency charged with assuring the safety and health of workers is investigating the May 26 heat-related death of a 22-year-old garbage collector
who died his second day on the job hauling trash on one of the city's most grueling routes.
The family of Theon L. Harrison says Republic Waste Services' response to the emergency was slow and inappropriate. Harrison was placed, they say, unconscious, in a non-air-conditioned garbage truck cab even though a heat stroke victim should be moved to a cool, shaded area to rest.
Although emergency treatment is paramount, paramedics were not called until a company supervisor arrived on the scene, hours after Harrison first reported symptoms, the family said.
"I think the crew took the appropriate measures. Heat is always an issue for us and anyone who works outside," said Will Flower, a spokesman for the Florida-based garbage company, which employs 300 in Houston. "We go through extensive training of our people to avoid all types of potential dangers including heat."
Harrison's brother, 19-year-old Maurice Harrison, who drives a truck for Republic waste, said heat stress may have been a topic addressed in reading material he was given when he started his job a year ago. But most training focused on operation of equipment, he said.
The day after Theon Harrison died, water coolers were distributed to all the workers at the beginning of the day. About a month later, the company — which paid for Harrison's funeral, the family said — held a training session about heat stress.
"After this incident occurred, we did in fact emphasize the need for paying attention to potential heat injuries," Flower said. "I think that's a responsible thing to do. If someone gets hurt, it doesn't hurt to ensure everyone makes sure they're drinking plenty of liquids."No, it sure doesn't hurt. Helps more if you do all of that before someone "gets hurt."
The article also reports that other waste management employers offer training before something happens. "Waste Management periodically tests drivers on the contents of its safety manual. The city gives its workers a card from OSHA that describes symptoms and steps to take."
It's too bad Republic workers didn't have the OSHA card. Here's how it describes the symptoms of Heat Stroke and what to do:
HEAT STROKE: A MEDICAL EMERGENCY
What are the symptoms?
DRY, PALE SKIN WITH NO SWEATING; HOT, RED SKIN THAT LOOKS SUNBURNED; MOOD CHANGES SUCH AS IRRITABILITY, CONFUSION, OR THE INABILITY TO THINK STRAIGHT; SEIZURES OR FITS; AND UNCONCIOUSNESS WITH NO RESPONSE
What should you do?
- Call 911 for emergency help immediately.
- Move the victim to a cool, shaded area. Don’t leave the person alone. Lay the victim on his or her back. Move nearby objects away from the person if symptoms include seizures or fits. If symptoms include nausea or upset stomach, lay the victim on his or her side.
- Loosen and remove any heavy clothing.
- Have the person drink cool water (about a cup every 15 minutes) if alert enough to drink something, unless to the stomach.
- Cool the person’s body by fanning and spraying with a mist of water or wiping the victim with a wet cloth or covering him or her with a wet sheet.
- Place ice packs under the armpits and groin area.