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2 deaths in 7 months at Amazon fulfillment centers

Amazon has been under fire recently for the way they treat their workers. Many employees at the mammoth online retailer's fulfillment centers -- the huge warehouses that store all of Amazon's goods for delivery -- deal with long hours, difficult labor conditions such as lifting heavy objects repeatedly, and lower-than-expected pay. And now the company is dealing with two deaths that occurred at their fulfillment centers over the past seven months.

In Dec. 2013, a man was crushed to death on a conveyor system; and just last month, another person was killed at a fulfillment center. There were few details provided about the second incident. However, both deaths are being investigated and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will make an official determination in the coming months.

While this post could easily devolve into a criticism of Amazon's work environment, this story really serves as an important reminder about worker safety in warehouses in general. Many workers in these warehouses endure unsafe conditions without even knowing it. A warehouse is inherently dangerous. There are heavy materials all over the place; large machinery is constantly being used; and there are powerful pieces of equipment that whirl, lift, spin and grind.

All of these factors can present significant injury or death risks to employees if they are improperly used or if they are stored in an unsafe manner. Mechanical breakdowns are also possible, posing significant threats to employees. When employees are injured under these circumstances, the company in charge could be held liable for the harm done to their workers.

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

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