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OSHA investigates NJ Amazon worker deaths – NBC10 Philadelphia

OSHA investigates NJ Amazon worker deaths - NBC10 Philadelphia
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Federal work-safety investigators are looking into the death of an Amazon worker and an injury that potentially led to the death of another employee, an investigation already underway following a third death during the company’s annual Prime Day shopping event in mid-July.

Three Amazon workers died within the past month and were employed at the company’s facilities in New Jersey.

New Occupational Health and Safety Administration investigations are putting renewed scrutiny on Amazon’s injury rates and workplace-safety procedures, which have been criticized as inadequate by labor and safety advocates.

Labor Department spokeswoman Denisha Braxton confirmed Thursday that the most recent fatality occurred last week at an Amazon facility in Monroe Township, about 20 miles (35 kilometers) northeast of Trenton. The second investigation is looking into a July 24 accident at an Amazon facility in Robbinsville. According to Braxton, the worker involved in that accident died three days later.

In a statement, Robbinsville Police Chief Michael Polaski said police responded to the warehouse, PNE5, on July 24 after a worker fell from a three-foot (one meter) ladder and hit his head.

Polaski said the worker was conscious and alert when police arrived. However, police were told CPR was performed by other staff members prior to their arrival. The man 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 on the incident there.

The news of the two most recent deaths was first reported by the USA TODAY Network.

OSHA officials declined to provide additional information on any of the deaths, citing the open investigation. The agency has six months to complete each investigation.

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

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

Last month, OSHA opened another investigation into the death of a worker at an Amazon warehouse in Carteret, New Jersey, during the company’s Prime Day shopping event, which became the largest in the company’s history. Federal officials have not released additional details about the death, but news reports identified the worker as 42-year-old Rafael Reynaldo Mota Frias.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the company’s internal investigation into Carteret’s death showed it was “not a work-related incident and was instead related to a personal medical condition.”

“OSHA is currently investigating the incident, and based on the evidence currently available to us, we fully expect it to reach the same conclusion,” the spokesperson said.

The news of the death comes amid a wide-ranging investigation into the company’s operations. In late July, OSHA officials visited Amazon facilities in New York, Illinois and Florida after receiving a referral 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 investigating safety risks at Amazon warehouses and “deceptive conduct designed to hide injuries from OSHA and others,” according to an office spokeswoman.

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