24 Amazon warehouse workers were hospitalized this week after a robot mishap released bear spray in their work area, according to a report.
The incident, which took place at an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey, hospitalized 24 employees — one of which is reportedly in “critical condition.”
ABC News reported that the damaged aerosol was a “9-ounce bear repellent can.”
In a statement, Amazon declared, “Today at our Robbinsville fulfillment center, a damaged aerosol can dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility. The safety of our employees is our top priority, and as such, all employees in that area have been relocated to a safe place and employees experiencing symptoms are being treated onsite. As a precaution, some employees have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment.”
“All of the impacted employees have been or are expected to be released from hospital within the next 24 hours,” the company continued. “The safety of our employees is always our top priority and a full investigation is already underway. We’d like to thank all of the first responders who helped with today’s incident.”
The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, however, accused Amazon of repeatedly “putting hard working people’s lives at risk.”
“Amazon’s automated robots put humans in life-threatening danger today, the effects of which could be catastrophic and the long-term effects for 80 plus workers are unknown,” proclaimed the union’s president, Stuart Appelbaum. “The richest company in the world cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people’s lives at risk. Our union will not back down until Amazon is held accountable for these and so many more dangerous labor practices.”
Amazon has previously been criticized for its treatment of warehouse employees, who were reportedly worked to exhaustion and made to urinate in bottles and trash cans for fear of taking a bathroom break.
Following negative publicity surrounding Amazon’s warehouses, the company paid employees to say positive things about working for Amazon on Twitter.
On Black Friday this year, European Amazon warehouse employees protested over “unfair work conditions.”