The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death of a worker at one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers, according to a press release issued yesterday.
Jody Rhoads, 52, died of multiple traumatic injuries after crashing a pallet truck into some shelves at an Amazon warehouse in Carlisle, Pa. This is not the first work-related death at Amazon.
This past December, Ronald Smith was crushed by a piece of equipment while he was performing sorting duties at the Amazon fulfillment center in New Jersey where he worked. As a result of an OSHA investigation, five companies have been cited for safety violations in connection with Smith’s death.
Genco, hired to run the Amazon warehouse as well as four staffing agencies, received a serious violation “for not certifying that a hazard assessment of the facility had been conducted before assigning employees to work.” Genco plus the four temporary staffing agencies all face $6,000 each in penalties. They have 15 days to comply or contest the citation before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The fines seem incredibly low for companies that failed so miserably to ensure the safety of their workers that someone actually died. Notice, also, that Amazon wasn’t cited.
Amazon has history of poor working conditions. Investigative reports by the London Financial Times and Salon give a glimpse of the brutal working conditions at Amazon where grueling efficiency and low wages reign. Employees wear tracking devices so management can monitor productivity and not a minute of employee time is wasted. The environment that Amazon cultivates at its warehouses seems ripe for fatigue-related injury. It will be interesting to see what this next investigation yields and whether Amazon has any culpability in the death of one of its workers.
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