The Chicago Occupational Accident Attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Represent Injured UPS Workers
UPS is one of the world’s largest shipping logistics companies providing pickup and delivery service of envelopes, packages, and parcels to deliver to nearly any global destination. Company employees include cross-country truck drivers, local delivery drivers, package sorters, dockworkers, airline crews, and others. Employees are expected to keep up in the fast-paced workplace to ensure that every package arrives at its destination on time as guaranteed to the consumer.
Nearly every UPS employee is required to handle freight of varying sizes using a variety of equipment from forklifts, pallet jacks, hand trucks, and other lifting/carrying tools. To secure the loads during transport, the UPS worker will use pallets, straps, rope, tape and other products to bundle loose loads together. Like many hectic work environments, UPS workers are often paid too low a wage for the extent of manual labor required to fulfill the duties of the job.
UPS Worker Hazards
The excessive levels of noise, working under dangerous weather conditions, and exposure to toxic exhaust and fumes are just some of the serious work hazards of a UPS employee. Many workers are required to work extremely long hours during seasonal holidays, which can lead to serious fatigue, mishaps, and accidents with injuries. The chaotic work environment can cause a quick turnover of workers during the busiest time of the year.
Research data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed a significantly high rate of non-lethal injuries and fatalities occurring on the job in various occupations at UPS. These include accidents that occur while transporting parcels and envelopes across the country, at loading docks, and when drivers are involved in crashes in urban and rural environments en route to deliver packages. In 2012, 756 truck drivers lost their lives while crisscrossing the nation and another approximately 65,000 truckers were injured. Many of these long haulers work for delivery companies like UPS, FedEx, DHL, and others.
Some of the common hazards and dangerous scenarios UPS workers face on the job every day include:
- Falling off trailers, pallets, and ladders while loading, unloading and handling packages.
- Slipping, tripping, and falling on slippery floor surfaces and outside icy and wet loading docks, sidewalks and driveways.
- Accidents involving fallen are overturned heavy cargo loads that shift when the trailer or delivery truck is moving.
- Accidents caused by blown tires, slippery roads, or faulty truck equipment.
- Unexpected exposure to hazardous chemicals that cause explosions, chemical burns, and other injuries.
UPS Workers' Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016, data concerning the employment statistics of the previous year, 26,730 UPS Workers were on the job in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area. On average, UPS Workers in northeastern Illinois earn $36,580 every year (mean wage), which is $70.59 per hour. The wage is significantly higher than the national averages. See Chart
UPS Workers Fatalities and Injuries
Acts of violence that result in serious injuries and fatalities are all too common occurrences at UPS facilities and other logistics companies in the United States. UPS workers are often placed in dangerous scenarios where disgruntled employees, angry customers, and others react violently to appease their sense of injustice. Below is just a small sampling of some of the life and death cases that exposed UPS employees to dangerous situations.
- Case 1: DeKalb County Georgia – A 48-year-old UPS worker died after being hit by a semi-tractor-trailer in December 2017 while working at the company’s loading dock. The incident occurred while the truck was backing up with the trailer toward the dock door. The truck driver was unaware he had hit the 17-year veteran worker until after the accident occurred. EMT responders transported the victim in critical condition to the local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
- Case 2: Bedford Park, Illinois – A Chicago area UPS worker suffered serious injuries while working at the Bedford Park facility in October 2017. First responders extricated the employee who was trapped by a semi-tractor-trailer. It took fire officials approximately one hour to remove the worker who was then transported by helicopter to the local hospital.
- Case 3: San Antonio, Texas – A 59-year-old UPS truck driver died after being pinned under the tires of a double trailer at the northeast side UPS facility in October 2017. According to the initial report, the trucker was loading parcels inside the tractor-trailer that began moving unexpectedly just before sunrise. The driver attempted to stop the truck from backing up but was pinned under the trailer’s tire. First responders found the unidentified truck driver dead at the scene.
- Case 4: Birmingham, Alabama – Two people were shot and killed by a 45-year-old former UPS worker at the company’s North Birmingham Customer Service Center. The 23-year veteran shooter took his own life immediately after the incident. Other employees inside the facility fled from the scene. The gunman was an apparently disgruntled employee who had been fired from his job and was in the appeal process to get his job back just before entering the Service Center through an open door in the docking area before opening fire. The facility is located close to the Birmingham Shuttleworth International Airport.
- Case 5: San Francisco, California – A driver for United Parcel Service opened fire at the company’s San Francisco Delivery Center taking the life of three co-workers. Immediately following the incident, the gunman fatally shot himself while police were closing in. First responders transported two wounded individuals to the local hospital and another five victims were treated at the scene. The gunman used an assault pistol, and another firearm at the Potrero Hill area facility where 350 employees work. This was not the first UPS fatal shooting in the San Francisco area by a disgruntled employee. An incident that occurred three years before claimed the life of two supervisors before the gunman fatally shot himself.
In nearly all cases, these incidents could have been prevented had the company taken a proactive stance on providing security to employees exposed to angry, violent gunman shooting in an enclosed environment.
Staying Safe at UPS
There are effective steps that every UPS employee can take to minimize the potential risk of suffering serious injuries or death while on the job. Most of the steps require a commonsense approach to identifying potential hazards and dangerous scenarios before they cause an injury or fatality. The most obvious steps include:
- Inspect the Truck – Before the nationwide trucker or local delivery driver leaves the facility for a load of cargo, it's crucial to perform a routine inspection of the vehicle. This effort will help identify any serious hazard or unsafe condition to avoid a catastrophic accident. The inspection should include viewing the reverse lights, running lights, headlights, tire inflation, wear and tear, damage to the tire, seatbelt function, and how well the cargo is secured in the back of the trailer or delivery truck.
- Follow Safe Lifting Practices – The manual labor required to fulfill partial deliveries can be debilitating on a worker if they fail to follow safe lifting practices every day on the job. In addition to using the best equipment, dollies, ramps, and tools, the employee can ask for assistance when a load is too heavy for one employee to lift. These lifting practices include:
- Identify Any Potential Hazard including slippery surfaces, icy sidewalks, or wet floor.
- Calculate the Weight of the load to identify any tools, equipment or other worker required to lift and move the parcel package when picking up, transporting, or delivering the package to its destination.
- Take Numerous Breaks to minimize fatigue and conserve necessary strength throughout the workday.
- Wear Support Footwear – Wearing proper footwear constructed with support, and nonskid soles can ensure adequate traction when walking down a loading ramp or treading across a slippery surface.
- Get Adequate Rest – Many job-related accidents and incidents that occur in a warehouse environment are the results of a lack of sleep and intense fatigue. The most dangerous scenarios involve tired forklift operators and truck drivers distracted by overexertion, exhaustion, and weariness.
- Use Proper Landing Gear – Whenever loading and unloading cargo from the back of a semi-tractor-trailer, it is crucial to ensure that the dock landing gear is properly installed before using the forklift.
- Stay Clear of the Forklift – Some UPS docks and storage areas are extremely noisy with equipment unloading trucks, sorting packages, and loading delivery vehicles. The elevated noise and chaotic environment could cause catastrophic results if the employee fails to take immediate action to avoid an incident with an oncoming forklift.
- Secure the Cargo – A semi-truck with a loaded trailer full of cargo should never be allowed to leave the dock area until the load has been fully secured using straps, bars, or lockdown equipment.
- Follow Safe Defensive Driving Procedures – The delivery truck drivers, long-haul truckers, and airline pilots are required to remain alert to avoid catastrophic events. The pilot can ensure they have adequate rest, truckers can pull off the road to sleep, and drivers can ask for assistance to minimize their daily load when facing an abundance of deliveries that day. Also, other steps can be taken to maximize defensive driving that includes:
- Never operate the vehicle without wearing a safety or seat belt.
- Avoid tailgating, especially when driving with a heavy load to ensure there was adequate time to come to a complete stop.
- Never speed through heavy traffic.
- Never cause a distraction by using a smartphone, texting, reading email, talking with passengers, drinking or eating food while driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Learn How to Avoid Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) – Many UPS workers are required to perform repetitive motion tasks throughout the day that require working in awkward positions, bending, twisting, stretching, or overreaching. Common symptoms associated with MDS include carpal tunnel syndrome and nerve damage causing a tingling, numbing sensation in the wrist, hands, fingers, elbows, forearms, shoulders, neck and back.
Every UPS worker should undergo a safety training program that helps identify hazardous conditions, threats of violence, or injuries that are caused by improper use of available equipment. The management should also train employees on how to work on and around forklifts and pallet jacks to maximize productivity while minimizing injuries caused by handling awkward size boxes and weight loads. A failure to provide employees with adequate training and proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) could service the basis of a worker’s compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit to ensure that the injured employee receives adequate monetary recovery for their damages.
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