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Amazon Being Investigated for Worker's Death at U.S. Warehouse

52-year-old Jody Rhoads was killed in a June 1 accident.

Jason Del Rey
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is currently looking into the recent death of a worker in an incident at an Amazon warehouse, it revealed in a press release yesterday. The incident occurred on June 1 at an Amazon fulfillment center in Carlisle, Pa., the agency said.

The Associated Press reported that the deceased is Jody Rhoads, a 52-year-old woman who was killed when machinery she was operating to move pallets crashed into shelving and pinned her.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jody’s family and loved ones,” an Amazon spokeswoman said. “We are actively working with OSHA to investigate this tragedy.”

Separately, OSHA yesterday issued its findings on the investigation into the work conditions surrounding the death of 57-year-old Ronald Smith, who died in December after being crushed my machinery at a New Jersey sorting facility owned by Amazon but operated by a separate company.

Five companies were cited for violations related to Smith’s death, but Amazon wasn’t one of them. One was Genco, the logistics company hired by Amazon to manage the facility as well as four staffing agencies, including one called Abacus that employed Smith. The four staffing agencies each face penalties of $6,000 — yes, only $6,000 — for “failure to perform a hazard assessment of the facility before assigning employees to determine if hazards existed.”

Genco is also facing a $6,000 penalty for failing to confirm that an assessment had been done.

OSHA hasn’t immediately responded to a request for an explanation of why Amazon wasn’t cited and why the penalties are so small in the New Jersey incident.

Update 4:35 pm ET: In an emailed response, OSHA said Amazon wasn’t cited in the New Jersey incident because Genco was the firm whose “responsibilities include the hiring, safety and health training, and supervision of employees from the four temporary agencies who perform general warehouse duties at the location.” Additionally, the size of the penalty is “set by statute and OSHA does not have discretion to assess a penalty more than the legally allowable amount,” a spokeswoman said in the email.

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