Less than a week after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that will repeal measures in Austin and Dallas to protect workers against heat related illness, a worker has died in Texas from heat stroke.

Utility lineman dies while helping restore power to Texas residents following storms

MARSHALL, Texas (KLTV/Gray News) – Officials say a utility lineman from West Virginia working to restore power in Texas has died.

KLTV reports that the 35-year-old lineman, whose name was not immediately released, was working with Appalachian Power to restore electricity to the Marshall area after last week’s storms.

According to Harrison County Justice of the Peace John Oswalt, the worker’s death has been attributed to heat-related causes.

Oswalt said the man had been working with his crew in the heat on Monday and told the group that he wasn’t feeling well once they returned to their motel.

Austin and Dallas require rest breaks and water for construction workers to protect them against heat illness. The “Death Star” bill will repeal those protections on September 1 because, according to the bill’s sponsors, Texas businesses are unable to deal with a “hodgepodge” of different requirements in different cities. HEat

Conditions: Danger

Like today, the temperature in Marshall was 93 degrees, but felt like 100 when humidity is factored in.  If you look up the heat index on the handy OSHA/NIOSH Heat App, you will find that “Conditions are Dangerous.”  That same day, North Texas saw a heat index of 116 degrees, and the National Weather Service (NWS) estimated the index peaking on Tuesday to 114 degrees.

The app doesn’t just warn workers of danger, it also tells them what employers should do to protect workers, including rescheduling all nonessential work for when the heat index is lower, providing adequate amounts of drinking water, rest and shade, emergency response procedures and training.

The precautions also remind employers to watch out for heat-related illness by checking workers’  heart rates and setting up a buddy system to enable workers to look out for signs and symptoms of heat related illness in others.

Could the worker’s life have been saved had managers and workers been trained, and had an emergency response system been set up to send the worker to the hospital after showing signs of heat stroke?

Maybe. According to another report, after feeling ill, the worker received some type of unspecified “medical treatment” and was sent home.

The man reportedly drank water, took a shower, and fell asleep in his hotel room in Marshall, located east of Dallas and roughly 20 miles shy of the Texas-Louisiana border…. The man’s roommate attempted to wake up the man, who was found unresponsive on the floor when the roommate returned from his shift. EMTs also attempted to revive him, but the man, who has not been named at this time, was pronounced dead at the scene.

OSHA’s heat app warns that if a worker shows sign of heat stroke, “THIS IS AN EMERGENCY: CALL 911.”  Even for Heat Exhaustion, the app says to “Take the worker to a clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation and treatment.”

Protect Workers’ Lives

I realize that the lineman would not have been covered by the specific protections that Abbott’s bill will repeal. He wasn’t covered by the protections issued in Austin or Dallas and the Death Star bill doesn’t become effective until September 1.

But a reasonable legislator or Governor might have said to themselves, “Hey, maybe instead of dragging Austin and Dallas back to the low standards that are killing workers in the rest of the state, we should save lives by bringing the rest of the state up to the standards of Austin and Dallas.”

But no. Because for Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Republicans, freedom from regulation is more important than human life

OSHA heat illness guidance can be found here.


Shortly after posting, I ran across this. Another heat-related death in Texas?

Postal worker collapses, dies while working during excessive heat warning

DALLAS (KWTX/Gray News) – A Postal Service worker has died in Texas while delivering mail during an excessive heat warning.

KWTX reports that 66-year-old Eugene Gates died on Tuesday while out working for the U.S. Postal Service.

Gates reportedly collapsed in the front yard of a home, and a neighbor performed CPR on him. However, the 66-year-old did not survive.

The agency shared the following statement:

The Lakewood area is a neighborhood located about eight miles outside of downtown Dallas.

According to the National Weather Service, the Dallas-Fort Worth area was under an excessive heat warning on Tuesday as the heat index was as high as 112 degrees.

16 thoughts on “Worker Dies of Heat Stroke 6 days After Abbott Signs Bill Repealing Heat Protections”
  1. Jordan:

    Hope you are doing well. FYI, ‘m passing along your report on the lineman who died in the East Texas heat to my email list. In addition, the Dallas Morning News is reporting that a Letter Carrier died in the heat yesterday. Here’s the link: tinyurl.com/y5x6zw3n

    Best regards,

    Ed Sills
    Director of Communications, Texas AFL-CIO

    1. They’re outdoor workers, so airflow isn’t the problem. Texas could certainly pass a law mandating heat protections for everyone, but not sure who would enforce is it as Texas doesn’t have its own OSHA plan. Federal OSHA Is working on a standard, but it may take many years for it to be issued.

  2. Ethical employers who care about their employees certainly can provide breaks & water during this excessive heat wave Texas is experiencing. Just because Abbott is insane doesn’t mean the business community in Texas has to follow him.

    1. The employers are the people that paid Abbott to pass the bill. They know heat kills and want not to have to pay out when their employees die. Abbott making it legal to deny safe working conditions to their employees allows the employers take away any recourse workers’ families have to sue for wrongful death.

      1. You can’t always blame it on heat exhaustion unless everyone understands the facts. You can be dehydrated even drinking water periodically through the day. Diets and food it take is just as important in this Texas heat. A lot of factors. People need to know their own bodies and limits.

  3. Your headline is ridiculous, but you achieved the effect you were shooting for. At least in your piece you were honest about the bill not even taking effect until September 1, but many readers likely read the headline and nothing more.

    You should demand that the Texas senate pass a law requiring employers to tell their employees to breathe every 6-7 seconds.

  4. […] 德州本屬最多建築工人因高溫死亡的州份,根據勞工統計局數據,2011 至 2021 年德州至少有 42 名工人死於高溫。而在阿博特批准法例數天後,馬歇爾市一名負責恢復供電的線路工人出現中暑症狀後死亡,他工作時戶外溫度高達攝氏 37.8 度。AFL-CIO 工會德州分部寫道:「在德州高溫下禁止建築工人休息足以致命。」工人權益組織警告,新法例將會導致更多高溫相關的死亡和疾病。達拉斯、奧斯汀和聖安東尼奧的市政府官員表示,他們仍在評估這道新法例的潛在影響。 […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Confined Space

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading