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OSHA investigates deaths of Amazon workers in NJ – NBC10 Philadelphia

OSHA investigates deaths of Amazon workers in NJ - NBC10 Philadelphia
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Federal occupational safety investigators are investigating the death of an Amazon worker and an injury that may have resulted in the death of another employee, adding to an already ongoing investigation into a third death during the company’s annual Prime Day shopping event in mid-July.

All three Amazon employees died last month while employed at company facilities in New Jersey.

The new Occupational Health and Safety Administration investigations put Amazon’s injury rates and workplace safety practices to the test, which have long been criticized as inadequate by workplace and safety advocates.

Labor Department spokeswoman Denisha Braxton confirmed Thursday that the latest death occurred last week at an Amazon facility in Monroe Township, about 35 kilometers northeast of Trenton. The second investigation investigates a July 24 accident at an Amazon facility in Robbinsville. The worker involved in that accident died three days later, according to Braxton.

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

Polaski said the worker was conscious and alert when police arrived. But police were told other workers performed CPR on the person before they arrived, he said. The person was taken to a hospital and OSHA was notified of the incident the same day, he added.

Police in Monroe Township did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the incident there.

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

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

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

“Our investigation is ongoing and we are working with OSHA, which is conducting its own reviews of events, as is often the case in these types of situations,” Stephenson said.

Last month, OSHA opened another investigation into the death of a worker at an Amazon warehouse in the town of 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 further details about the death, but news reports have identified the worker as 42-year-old Rafael Reynaldo Mota Frias.

An Amazon spokesman said the company’s internal investigation into Carteret’s death showed it “was not a work-related incident, but was related to a personal illness.”

“OSHA is currently investigating the incident and based on the evidence currently available to us, we anticipate they will come to the same conclusion,” the spokesman said.

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

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