NJ Amazon worker’s Prime Day death wasn’t from workplace conditions, feds say

NJ Amazon worker’s Prime Day death wasn’t from workplace conditions, feds say

A federal investigation into the death of an Amazon warehouse employee final summer season has cleared the retail big of any well being or security violations linked to the incident.

The Occupational Security and Well being Administration concluded its probe into the fatality and issued no citations to Amazon. OSHA spokeswoman Leni Fortson stated the worker’s death “was not related to workplace conditions.”

Rafael Mota Frias died in July on the success heart in Carteret through the retail big’s two-day “Prime Day” promotion. On the time, Amazon officers stated their very own inside investigation discovered the incident was associated to a medical situation that he hadn’t informed supervisors about, and that the corporate was conducting its personal investigation into the fatality.

“This was a tragic event and our thoughts continue to be with his loved ones as we work to support them and our team,” Amazon spokeswoman Maureen Lynch Vogel stated in an emailed assertion.

Over the summer season, a number of media reviews cited unnamed Amazon employees describing sweltering circumstances on the Carteret website, which had been reaffirmed to Gothamist by Jordan Flowers, one of many co-founders of the Amazon Labor Union. The ALU doesn’t symbolize the Carteret facility, however Flowers stated it had been in contact with employees there. Quickly after, Amazon put in new air-con programs on the Carteret website, however wouldn’t say if that work was prompted by these issues.

Mota Frias’ death was adopted by two different New Jersey Amazon employee deaths inside two weeks final summer season. In late July, a employee on the Robbinsville Amazon facility fell off a 3 foot ladder, struck his head and died three days later. The next week, one other employee on the Monroe Township facility died.

Fortson stated these two incidents stay beneath investigation. The company has as much as six months to launch its findings.

The trio of deaths this summer season prompted concern from labor teams that known as for extra scrutiny of warehouse labor practices as Amazon continues to broaden its footprint within the state. A New Jersey Coverage Perspective evaluation in early 2022 discovered Amazon employed simply 5,500 employees within the state 5 years earlier — however that quantity had grown to 49,000 by the point of the report.

“The injuries at Amazon’s warehouse facilities are a systemic issue and bigger than any one investigation. Federal data shows that Amazon is an outlier when it comes to workplace injuries and cannot be trusted to keep their employees safe,” stated Nicole Rodriguez, president of New Jersey Coverage Perspective. “This is a well-documented problem and the federal government has every reason to continue their investigations and hold Amazon accountable.”

A report by the assume tank final yr confirmed harm charges amongst state Amazon employees elevated by 54.3% from 2020 to 2021, in comparison with a nationwide enhance of 19.6%. There have been no recorded employee deaths at New Jersey’s warehouses in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

OSHA, nonetheless, did situation citations to a few Amazon amenities this week in New Windsor, New York; Waukegan, Illinois; and Deltona, Florida, alleging it uncovered employees to security hazards that would put them at excessive danger of decrease again accidents or different musculoskeletal issues.

The U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace for the Southern District of New York opened an investigation into workplace issues of safety at Amazon final summer season, referring a number of warehouses to OSHA for inspections, which stay ongoing. The workplace can be wanting into whether or not Amazon fraudulently misrepresented the variety of worker accidents and its security file. Officers stated members of the general public can nonetheless report warehouse issues of safety on-line.

Garrett O’Connor, director of employee organizing and coverage for immigrant advocacy and assist group Make the Highway New Jersey, stated OSHA’s resolution to not situation citations following Mota Frias’ death didn’t clear Amazon of duty. He cited the continuing investigation by the U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace.

“It is entirely clear that Amazon’s production quotas have made its warehouses particularly dangerous for workers, even in comparison to its competitors in an already dangerous industry,” O’Connor stated in a press release. “If anything, the result of this case points to a need for deeper and broader authority for OSHA to hold Amazon and other employers accountable for conditions not currently within its enforcement purview.”

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