Amazon warehouse deaths investigated

Amazon warehouse deaths investigated

Two people have died in warehouse incidents while working for Amazon in the US, it has been revealed.

One woman, 52-year-old Jody Rhoads, died on 1st June at an Amazon warehouse in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, after she was crushed underneath a motorised pallet jack she was operating which crashed into some shelves. A second Amazon worker, Ronald Smith, died at a facility in Avenel, New Jersey, last December after getting stuck in a conveyor system and crushed, according to Raw Story.

The US department of Labor has launched an investigation following the deaths at the distribution centres, Bloomberg News reported.

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited five companies for violations at the Amazon facility in Avenel, New Jersey, including the contractor responsible for the sorting operation, and four staffing agencies that hired temporary employees to work at the warehouse. However, Amazon wasn’t cited by the government for the death.

“Temporary staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for the safety and health of temporary employees,” an OSHA statement said. “These employers must assess the work site to ensure that workers are adequately protected from potential hazards. It is essential that employers protect all workers from job hazards — both temporary and permanent workers.”

Meanwhile Amazon said in a statement: “Any accident that occurs in a facility is one too many and we take these matters seriously.”

Working conditions at Amazon’s warehouses have previously attracted controversy on various grounds, with protests in the UK and Germany as well as the US over issues such as "robotic" working conditions, and "intimidating" security. However, these two incidents are the first two reported warehouse deaths.

Last week, anti-Amazon campaign group Amazon Anonymous pulled an online stunt on the retailer’s own website to demand warehouse workers are paid the Living Wage.