Monday, 22 July, 2019

Amazon Warehouse Robot Hospitalizes 24 Workers in Bear Repellent Mishap

Amazon's fulfillment centre in Robbinsville which uses automated robots
Reuters Amazon's fulfillment centre in Robbinsville which uses automated robots Credit Reuters
Ginger Lawrence | 07 December, 2018, 10:14

Up to 24 workers at an Amazon Warehouse in New Jersey have been rushed to five hospitals after a robot punctured a can of bear repellent, releasing unsafe fumes into the air. Thirty of the workers were treated at the scene, 24 needed to go to hospital, and one remains in a critical condition.

Capsaicin is the major active ingredient in bear spray. The safety of our employees is our top priority, and as such, all employees in that area were relocated to a safe place.

Amazon's workforce now includes 575,700 employees globally as well as 80,000 robots known as "Kiva" which operate in warehouses.

Workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, N.J., were sickened on Wednesday after an automated machine punctured a can of bear repellent. The employees transported to five local hospitals were done so just as a precaution and Amazon believes they are all expected to be released within 24 hours.

Rachael Lighty, a spokeswoman for Amazon, claimed in a statement to the Washington Post that "the safety of our employees is our top priority". "We'd like to thank all of the first responders who helped with today's incident", Amazon told news outlets in a statement Wednesday night. Nalbone said that no danger was imposed on the surrounding communities as the fumes dissipated.

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In 2016, there were even reports that staff took to sleeping in tents in order to save money and be able to make it into work on time.

The president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Stuart Appelbaum, said: "Amazon's automated robots put humans in life-threatening danger".

"The richest company in the world can not continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people's lives at risk". Amazon workers are not unionized, but species solidarity supersedes union ties.

The incident has again shone a spotlight on conditions in Amazon's warehouses, which have been criticised in the USA and the United Kingdom for poor working practices and a focus on productivity above worker safety.