OSHA Investigates Amazon Workers’ Deaths

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. August 15, 2022
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an Amazon facility

​The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating three recent deaths at Amazon facilities in New Jersey. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Investigation Could Be Lengthy

"Because these [deaths] are all under investigation, the information that can be released is limited," said Joanna Hawkins, deputy regional director of the U.S. Department of Labor's Philadelphia Office of Public Affairs. One of the deaths occurred during Prime Day, Amazon's biggest sale event of the year. OSHA has up to six months to investigate each death.

(NJ.com)

Public Outcry

"People should feel confident that when they go to work they'll be safe and come home the way they went in," wrote Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., in a statement. "Amazon is failing to fulfill that basic promise." 

Workers in one facility said the employee who died on Prime Day often worked in a hot upper floor of the warehouse. In May, long prior to the deaths, eight U.S. representatives from New Jersey asked OSHA to look into "skyrocketing" injuries at the company.

(USA Today Network via my central jersey)

Amazon's Statement

Amazon spokesman Sam Stephenson issued the following statement following one death: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague and our thoughts are with his family and friends. We are in contact with the employee's family to offer support, and we're providing counseling resources to employees needing additional care. As is standard protocol, we are conducting an internal investigation and are cooperating with OSHA, who is also conducting their own independent review."

(New Jersey 101.5)

Other Deaths

Two Amazon workers in Amazon's Bessemer, Ala., facility died last year—one of whom had a stroke soon after his request to go home was denied, according to co-workers. Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel disputed this claim, saying that it is "false and it's really disappointing that anyone would spread misinformation about something like this to try and advance their own agenda." Another employee died Aug. 6, 2022, following serious injuries at an Amazon facility in Carlisle, Pa.

(Mashable and Penn Live)

Union Drives

Earlier this year, Amazon narrowly led in a revote of a union drive at a Bessemer, Ala., warehouse, but contested ballots remain. Nonetheless, Amazon workers voted to unionize a Staten Island, N.Y., warehouse on April 1, a first at one of the company's U.S. facilities. Amazon is contesting the election.

(SHRM Online) and (SHRM Online)

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