Accidents at Amazon Warehouses Kill Two, Prompts US Dept of Labor Investigation

Since December of 2013, two deaths have occurred in Amazon warehouses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The most recent fatal of these occurred on June 1 in Carlisle, PA. Both of those who died in these workplace accidents were temporary workers.

The first incident occurred in December of 2013 when 57-year-old Ronald Smith was caught in a conveyor belt and died from the injuries that resulted at an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey.  The accident earlier this month occurred when 52-year-old Jody Rhoads operating a pallet jack was pinned by the machine and suffered fatal injuries at a plant in Pennsylvania.

The most recent incident has prompted an investigation by the US Department of Labor. Thus far the Department of Labor has cited Genco, an Amazon contractor, and four temporary staffing agencies for the 2013 incident. The companies have been charged $6,000 in fines for “failure to perform a hazard assessment of the facility before assigning employees to determine if hazards existed.”  Many observers have commented that this is a very small amount to pay for the serious accidents that took place. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has responded that this penalty is set by statute and a higher penalty could not be implemented legally.

Head of the Avenal office of OSHA has announced their position that both temporary staffing agencies and host employers are to be held accountable for work accidents. However, the government has not cited Amazon for the accidents at this point in time. OSHA has explained that the contractor Genco was responsible for hiring, safety and health training, making this company responsible, not Amazon.

Amazon is an expanding company, reportedly hiring 70,000 seasonal employees to work in the 50 new shipping warehouses opened since 2010. Amazon stated, “Any accident that occurs in a fatality is one too many and we take these matters seriously.”

Those Involved in the Casualties:

  • Ronald Smith (57)
  • Jody Rhoads (52)

Our most sincere condolences go out to the workers and their families at this time. Workplace accidents such as these are unexpected and devastating. Work accidents, especially fatal ones, are incredibly serious matters for both employer and employee. If you or a loved one have been hurt on the job and have reason to believe your employer is at fault, you may have a right to worker’s compensation or personal injury compensation. Skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys can help you get what you deserve. Do not hesitate to contact Fellerman & Ciarimboli Law Firm at (570)714-HURT today.

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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