Federal occupational safety investigators are looking into the death of an Amazon worker and a potentially fatal injury to another worker, adding to an investigation already underway following a third fatality during the company’s annual Prime Day shopping event in mid-July.
All three Amazon employees died within the past month and worked at company facilities in New Jersey.
New investigations by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration into Amazon’s injury rates and workplace safety procedures have long been criticized as inadequate by labor and safety advocates.
Labor Department spokeswoman Denisha Braxton confirmed Thursday that the latest fatality occurred last week at an Amazon facility in Monroe Township, about 20 miles (35 kilometers) northeast of Trenton. The second investigation is looking into a July 24 accident at an Amazon facility in Robbinsville. According to Braxton, the worker who was involved in the accident died three days later.
Robbinsville Police Chief Michael Polaski said in a statement that police responded after receiving a report on July 24 that a worker fell from a three-foot (one-meter) ladder and hit his head at a warehouse called PNE5.
Polaski said the employee was conscious and alert when police arrived. However, police were told that CPR was performed on the man by other staff before they arrived. The individual was transported to the hospital and the incident was reported to OSHA the same day.
Police in Monroe Township did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the incident there.
The two most recent deaths were first reported by the USA Today Network.
OSHA officials declined to provide additional information on any deaths, citing open investigations. The agency has up to six months to complete each investigation.
Sam Stephenson, a spokesman for Seattle-based Amazon, said the company was “deeply saddened by the passing of our colleagues and our condolences go out to their family and friends.”
“Our investigations are ongoing, and we are cooperating with OSHA, which often conducts its own analysis of incidents like these situations,” he said.
Last month, OSHA opened another investigation into the death of a worker at an Amazon warehouse in Carteret, New Jersey, during the company’s Prime Day shopping event, which turned out to be the largest incident in the company’s history. Federal authorities did not release further details about the death, but reports identified the worker as 42-year-old Rafael Reynaldo Mota Frias.
An Amazon spokeswoman said the company’s internal investigation into Carteret’s death found it was “not a work-related incident and instead related to a personal health condition.”
“OSHA is currently investigating the incident and based on the evidence we currently have, we fully expect it to reach the same conclusion,” the spokesperson said.
News of the deaths comes amid a wider investigation into the company’s operations. In late July, OSHA officials inspected Amazon facilities in New York, Illinois and Florida after receiving complaints from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York about health and safety violations. The U.S. attorney’s civil division is also investigating safety hazards at Amazon warehouses and “fraudulent conduct designed to conceal injuries from OSHA and others,” according to a spokeswoman for the office.
Leave a Comment