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OSHA looks into two deaths at Amazon distribution centers

According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon boasted $74.45 billion in revenue in 2013. The surge of orders just around December alone prompted the company to hire 70,000 full-time seasonal employees to work at distribution centers across the nation, including here in California. But as our San Diego readers will soon see, these temporary work environments could pose a safety risk to workers.

According to reports, two workers were killed while on the job at two different Amazon distribution centers here in the United States, one in December 2013 and the other in June of this year. Some of our more frequent visitors may remember reading about the December 2013 death on our blog. As you may remember, the accident stirred rumors across the nation that questioned whether the conditions at these warehouses might be unsafe or hazardous.

This is what the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will need to consider as it looks into the deaths of these two workers. Investigators will need to determine if these job-site accidents were a result of negligence and if so, on whose part.

As some of you may already know, temporary employees sometimes do not receive the same quality safety training that a permanent worker would receive. It’s because of this that they may not know what to do when presented with unsafe working conditions. Though the employer might blame the worker if they get injured, a company’s failure to provide adequate safety training could suggest negligence on the company’s part. As you may know, this can be cited when seeking workers’ compensation for an injured worker and death benefits for a deceased worker’s family.

This negligence could also be grounds for citations and fines against the company as well. Unfortunately, our readers will have to wait for OSHA to complete its investigation before we see if this will be the case for Amazon or not.

Source: The Insurance Journal, “Amazon Workplace Faces Safety Scrutiny After 2 Deaths,” Adam Satariano, June 16, 2014

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