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Amazon faces fines following the death of a second warehouse worker in as many months

The state of Indiana found four potential violations.

Several Amazon workers at a warehouse scan stacks of packages on the shop floor
Workers in an Amazon fulfillment center
Sean Gallup / Getty
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.

Amazon could face $28,000 in potential fines after an inspection by the state of Indiana found potential workplace safety violations at a warehouse where a 59-year-old worker was killed in late September.

The Associated Press reported that the victim, Phillip Terry of Indianapolis, “was fatally crushed when a forklift’s lift fell on him while he was doing maintenance work on it.” Terry was killed on Sept. 24 at an Amazon facility in the Indianapolis suburb of Plainfield.

In a nine-page letter to Amazon, the Indiana Department of Labor outlined four violations that could carry fines of $7,000 each. They included a failure to “provide adequate training” and to develop and document certain safety procedures. Amazon can appeal the penalties.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the company does not comment on ongoing investigations, but released a statement saying:

“Safety is our number one priority, and as we do with any incident, we are reviewing our practices and protocols to ensure the well-being of our employees. Any safety incident that occurs within our operations is one too many.”

Also in September, a 28-year-old worker named Devan Shoemaker was killed at an Amazon warehouse in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Shoemaker was accidentally crushed by a truck near the facility’s loading docks, according to a local news report. Another Amazon worker was killed in an accident at the same facility in 2014.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is still investigating Shoemaker’s death, a spokeswoman said.

Amazon has come under fire in recent years for how physically taxing some of its warehouse jobs can be. The company’s warehouse workers aren’t unionized. A 2014 union drive at one of its Delaware facilities failed.

As Amazon’s retail business continues its rapid growth, the company has been furiously building out its warehouse footprint and hiring for these facilities to try to keep up with consumer demand.

Behind the magic of the Amazon Buy button, an army of warehouse workers do the hard work that make it possible.

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