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Amazon investigating series of warehouse deaths as scrutiny continues

Four Amazon warehouse workers died in separate accidents within four weeks. Details of each fatality have not yet been released, but the latest fatality is a familiar sight for Amazon, saying the brutal pace of work required and employees were at risk of injury and overheating. It puts an even stronger spotlight on dissatisfaction.

Different circumstances surround death. Rafael Reynaldo Mota Frias, 42, reportedly died of a heart attack in Carteret, New Jersey, during Prime Day on July 13. Another worker, Rodger Boland, died after hitting his head after falling from a short ladder in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The 22-year-old Alex Carillo died six days after he was in a forklift crash that occurred on August 1 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

A fourth worker, Eric Waddinsky, died on August 4 after a workplace accident in Monroe Township, New Jersey. All deaths are under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and it will take him six months to release the findings.

Amazon has extended its condolences to the entire family of the deceased. “Each of these tragic incidents has had a profound impact on our team, and we are providing resources to families and employees who need it,” Amazon spokeswoman Sam Stevenson said. “Our investigation is ongoing and, as is often the case in situations like this, we are cooperating with OSHA, which is conducting its own review of the event.”

The probe comes as Amazon faces investigations from federal and state regulators about workplace safety, as well as backlash over what they say are dangerously hot workplaces for workers. Recently, a group of workers quit their jobs at Amazon’s aviation hub in San Bernardino, Calif., to protest harsh working conditions and wages.

Deaths are also occurring as people re-examine the Amazon’s role in their lives in light of unsafe working conditions reported by the press, advocates and the workers themselves. A group of 70 TikTok influencers signed a pledge in August to shut down their Amazon storefront and wishlists and monetize their videos when users click through to Amazon’s marketplace. promised to avoid entering into a new contract with Amazon.

Call from TikTokers: Reports of abnormally hot warehouses and trucks where workers have to load and unload in the sun. A photo shared by the More Perfect Union, a labor rights group, shows the cargo area of ​​an Amazon truck registering an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius).

TikToker’s @asianlefty said in a video that “Amazon treats its employees like crap,” pointing out employees’ frustration with hot workplaces and limited water, and joining the People Over Prime pledge. He added that there were

Amazon spokesman Stevenson said the company’s warehouses have climate control. “Our team is trained to follow robust safety procedures when operating in temperate climates, and our policies meet or exceed industry standards and his OSHA guidance,” he said. said.

Prevent future deaths in warehouses

Eric Frumin, director of health and safety at the trade union-backed Center for Strategic Organizations, said it was difficult to draw broad conclusions from the four deaths, adding that warehouse deaths were statistically rare across the industry. added.

Still, workplace safety experts say the deaths raise questions.

“One workplace has too many deaths,” says Marissa Baker, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Washington.

It’s also not the first death Amazon has confirmed in the past 12 months. It’s unclear exactly how many workers have died at Amazon’s warehouses in recent years, but five workers employed by Amazon contractors were killed in a warehouse that collapsed during a tornado in December. and the delivery driver died.

OSHA investigated the incident and requested that Amazon review its severe weather policy, but no fatalities appear in the two OSHA datasets that collect information on fatalities. In response to CNET’s inquiry, OSHA did not provide any information as to why the deaths were not recorded in the dataset. In a statement, Amazon said it will report all deaths to OSHA as required by law.

Both casualties are generally underestimated, Baker said. “It doesn’t mean that the data we have should be ignored or unreliable,” she said. But she added that there needs to be more standardization in recording work-related injuries and deaths.

Frumin, director of health and safety at the Center for Strategic Organizations, added that OSHA’s investigation must be thorough to develop future prevention plans.

He said that when investigating Borland’s death in Robinsville, investigators should ask why someone fell off a three-foot-high ladder in the first place. Similar falls in the future may result in serious injury, if not death. Washington state regulators say Amazon employees often skip using tools such as springboards or use them in unsafe ways.

For Mota Frias, who died of cardiac arrest on Prime Day, investigators must find out whether the heat and pace of work exacerbated his medical emergency.

Amazon has denied responsibility for his death. A spokesman for the company, Stevenson, said the deaths were “related to personal medical conditions.” Amazon workers told the Daily Beast that the area where Mota Frias worked was dangerously hot. Stevenson said the claim that heat was a factor was false. ” he added.

Heart attacks at work, even those caused by underlying medical conditions, can be work-related, Frumin said. In addition, he said, workers who fear losing their jobs often work through their health fears.

Frumin also believes it’s worth investigating the fact that the death occurred on Prime Day.

“That’s a big alarm,” Frumin said.

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