An Amazon warehouse employee died on the job during the e-commerce giant’s big two-day, $12 billion Prime Day event.
An unnamed male worker passed away at Amazon’s EWR9 facility in Carteret, N.J. on July 12, Amazon confirmed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said in a statement emailed to FN that it was “aware of the tragic incident” and opened an inspection on July 14 and is currently investigating. OSHA has six months to complete to conduct its inspection and release its findings, the spokesperson wrote. Additional details about how the worker died were not available.
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In a statement emailed to FN, Amazon spokesperson Sam Stephenson said: “We’re deeply saddened by the passing of one of our colleagues and offer our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time. We’ve contacted his family to offer support and will provide counseling resources to employees needing additional care.”
Amazon has repeatedly come under fire over its treatment of warehouse and delivery employees. Critics have increasingly zeroed in on Amazon’s use of productivity quotas, arguing its relentless focus on speed leads to on-the-job injuries at warehouses. Multiple studies by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), a coalition of labor unions, attributed high injury rates among warehouse and delivery workers to Amazon’s “obsession with speed.”
Workers at Amazon facilities sustained about 38,000 injuries in 2021 compared to 27,700 in 2020 and 21,200 in 2019, and the serious injury rate was 6.8 per 100 Amazon workers, compared to a 3.3 per 100 for non-Amazon facilities, according to an SOC study released in April. SOC noted that the report is based on data submitted to OSHA.
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Meanwhile, Amazon signed a new safety pledge one year after it unveiled a five-year, $12 million partnership with the nonprofit National Safety Council (NSC). According to the NSC, the partnership aims to invent new ways to prevent the largest category of workplace injuries in the U.S., musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), or ergonomic injuries like tendinitis, back strains and sprains, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
This new pledge sees Amazon join more than 15 other companies – like United Airlines and John Deere – that commit to creating safer outcomes for millions of workers worldwide by reducing these injuries by 25% by 2025.
“We’re always investing in new ways to keep our employees safe, and we look forward to working with NSC and the companies that sign this pledge to keep getting better every day,” Heather MacDougall, Amazon VP for workplace health and safety, said in a June statement. “MSDs are a challenge across many different industries, and this pledge will bring together forward-thinking leaders and allow us to share successes and innovate on behalf of all our employees.”
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