Two deaths at Amazon warehouses being investigated by OSHA

An Amazon Fulfillment Center in San Bernardino. Deaths have occurred at Amazon centers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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Deaths at two Amazon warehouses have come under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Dept. of Labor announced Thursday.

The most recent death came on June 1, when Jody Rhodes, 52, was working at an Amazon fulfillment center in Carlisle, Pa. Rhodes was operating a motorized pallet jack when it crashed into shelving; she died of multiple blunt-force injuries.

Rhodes was a breast cancer survivor and a widow; she is survived by two sons and four grandchildren. OSHA has just begun its investigation of her death.


OSHA has now completed investigating a death at an Amazon fulfillment center in New Jersey in December. OSHA has cited five companies — Amazon subcontractor Genco and four temporary agencies it coordinated -- for serious violations. Each of the five companies faces a $6,000 fine.

On Dec. 4, Ronald Smith, 57, was working sorting items when he was caught by a conveyor belt and dragged. He was taken to a hospital and later died. Smith was a father of four and grandfather of seven.

Smith had been hired by temporary staffing agency Abacus. It and three other temp agencies were cited by OSHA, as well as the company Genco, which was contracted by Amazon to direct the temporary employees involved in sorting operations.

For the 2013 holiday season, Amazon announced it would be hiring 70,000 temporary workers.

“Genco was cited for one serious violation for not certifying that a hazard assessment of the facility had been conducted before assigning employees to work,” OSHA wrote in its announcement.

“Any accident that occurs in a facility is one too many and we take these matters seriously,” Amazon said in a statement.

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