Federal work-safety investigators are investigating the death of an Amazon employee and an injury that potentially led to the termination of another employee, the first since the third death during the company’s annual Prime Day shopping event in mid-July. The investigation itself is going on.
All three Amazon employees died within the past month and were employed at the company’s facilities in New Jersey.
The new Occupational Health and Safety Administration investigation examines Amazon’s injury rates and workplace-safety procedures, which have long been criticized by labour and safety advocates for being inadequate.
Labor Department spokeswoman Denisa Braxton confirmed Thursday that the most recent death occurred last week at an Amazon facility in Monroe Township, about 20 miles (35 kilometres) northeast of Trenton. The second investigation looks at the accident on July 24 at an Amazon facility in Robbinsville. According to Braxton, the employee involved in that 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 struck his head.
Polaski said the worker was conscious and alert when the police arrived. But police were told CPR was conducted on the person by other workers before their arrival, he said. He added that the person was transported to a hospital, and OSHA was notified of the incident the same day.
Police in Monroe Township didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on the incident.
The USA Today Network first reported the two most recent deaths. OSHA officials declined to provide additional information about deaths, citing the open investigations. The agency has up to six months to complete each probe.
Sam Stephenson, a spokesperson for Seattle-based Amazon, said in a statement the company was “deeply saddened by the passing of our colleagues and offer our condolences to their family and friends.”
“Our investigations are ongoing, and we’re cooperating with OSHA, which is conducting its reviews of the events, as it often does in these situations,” Stephenson said.
Last month, OSHA launched another investigation into a worker fatality at an Amazon warehouse in the New Jersey town of Carteret during the company’s Prime Day shopping event, which turned out to be the biggest in the company’s history. Federal officials haven’t released additional details about the death, but news reports have identified the worker as 42-year-old Rafael Reynaldo Mota Frias.
A spokesperson for Amazon said the company’s internal investigation into the Carteret death shows it “was not a work-related incident, and instead was related to a personal medical condition.”
“OSHA is currently investigating the incident, and, based upon the evidence available to us, we fully expect that it will reach the same conclusion,” the spokesperson said.
News of the deaths comes amid broader scrutiny of the company’s operations. In late July, OSHA officials inspected Amazon facilities in New York, Illinois and Florida after receiving referrals alleging health and safety violations from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
The civil division of the U.S. attorney’s office is also investigating safety hazards at Amazon warehouses and “fraudulent conduct designed to hide injuries from OSHA and others,” according to a spokesperson for the office.