October 7, 2022

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OSHA investigating deaths of NJ Amazon workers - NBC10 Philadelphia

OSHA investigating deaths of NJ Amazon workers – NBC10 Philadelphia

Federal work safety investigators are looking into the death of an Amazon worker and an injury that led to the death of another employee, in addition to an investigation already underway after a third death during the company’s annual Prime Day shopping event in mid-July.

All three Amazon workers have died within the past month and worked at the company’s facilities in New Jersey.

A new Occupational Health and Safety Administration investigation is putting new scrutiny on Amazon’s infection rates and workplace safety measures, which labor and safety advocates have long criticized as inadequate.

Labor Department spokeswoman Dinesha Braxton confirmed Thursday that the latest death occurred last week at the Amazon facility in the town of Monroe, about 20 miles (35 kilometers) northeast of Trenton. The second investigation is looking into an accident that occurred on July 24 at the Amazon facility in Robbinsville. According to Braxton, the worker involved in this accident died three days later.

In a statement, Robbinsville Police Chief Michael Polaski said police responded to the warehouse, called PNE5, on July 24 after receiving a report that a worker fell from a three-foot (one meter) ladder and hit his head.

Polaski said the worker was conscious and alert when the police arrived. But he said police had been told that CPR had been administered to the person by other workers before they arrived. He added that the person was taken to the hospital and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified of the incident on the same day.

Police in the town of Monroe did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident there.

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The two most recent deaths were first reported by USA Today.

OSHA officials declined to provide additional information about any of the deaths, citing open investigations. The agency has up to six months to complete each investigation.

The company is “deeply saddened by the passing of our colleagues and our condolences to their families and friends,” Sam Stephenson, a Seattle-based Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement.

“Our investigations are ongoing and we are cooperating with OSHA, which conducts its own reviews of events, as it often does in these situations,” Stephenson said.

Last month, OSHA launched another investigation into the death of an Amazon warehouse worker in Carteret, New Jersey during the company’s Prime Day shopping event, which turned out to be the largest in the company’s history. Federal officials have not released additional details about the death, but news reports have identified the worker as 42-year-old Rafael Reinaldo Motta Frias.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company’s internal investigation into Carterett’s death shows it was “not a work-related accident, but rather related to a personal medical condition.”

“We are currently investigating the incident, and based on the evidence currently available to us, we fully expect they will come to the same conclusion,” an Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesperson said.

News of the deaths comes amid broader scrutiny of the company’s operations. In late July, OSHA officials searched Amazon facilities in New York, Illinois and Florida after receiving referrals of alleged health and safety violations from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. The US Attorney’s Civil Division is also investigating safety risks in Amazon warehouses and “fraudulent behavior designed to conceal injuries from OSHA and others,” according to an office spokesperson.

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