Coroner: Heat Involved In Man's Death At Work
Company Didn't Report Death, State Says
Last Updated: 664 days ago
A southern Indiana man who collapsed while working at a foundry died of a heart attack complicated by extreme heat, the Bartholomew County Coroner's Office said.Charles Hulse, 50, of North Vernon, collapsed while at his work station at CE Systems Inc. in Columbus on Thursday.Bartholomew County Chief Deputy Coroner Larry Fisher said Hulse was on medication for hypertension and high cholesterol. He had started feeling overwhelmed by the heat, but had taken a break in a cool room before returning to work.The Republic reported that the death was ruled from natural causes. Temperatures reached the mid-90s that day, with a heat index of about 115 degrees.The Indiana Department of Labor is investigating the circumstances of the death at the foundry that makes iron castings for heavy equipment manufacturers."We'll take a look at everything from the workplace itself, where the employee was doing the work, what type of work the employee was doing," said Stephanie McFarland, spokeswoman for the Department of Labor.The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration said companies are required to report workplace fatalities to the state within eight hours, but Hulse's death was not reported until Monday.Hulse's family knew he worked in hot conditions, but they didn't think it was so hot that it could contribute to his death."It shouldn't have happened at all, because now we're without him," said Hulse's son, Charles Hulse Jr.The worker's son and widow both believe the heat played a big role in his death."They could have given him breaks. They could have asked him to go home because of the heat," Hulse said. "It gets about 180 degrees in there.""I feel like they need to have water, Gatorade, and when it's this hot, they need to be shut down," said Irene Hulse, wife of the man who died. "They're just going to have to realize that due to the health of the people who get these things out, they're just going to have to wait."OSHA officials said heat-related deaths are preventable."Heat illness is 100 percent preventable, and it starts with a three-step process -- water, rest and shade -- and employers need to make sure their employees have access to free drinking water and frequent rest, given the high heat and humid conditions we've had," McFarland said.The recent heat wave prompted dozens of calls from workers all over the state asking about their rights, McFarland said. At least 50 people from various companies have complained of uncomfortable working conditions.Hulse's family said he was a hard worker who will be sorely missed."He was only 50 years old. He had a whole life ahead of him, three kids, six grandkids. Now, he's not here," said Nancy Edwards.6News left a message with CE Systems Monday night, but the company had not returned the call.Services for Charles Hulse will be Tuesday at Dove and Sharp Funeral Home in North Vernon, where the family is accepting contributions to help pay for funeral expenses.