An Amazon warehouse in New Jersey experienced what the feeling of bear spray was after it seemed to have released its contents by accident on Wednesday morning.
According to Vice, an investigation was done and concluded that a nine-ounce can of bear spray was punctured by an automated machine. John Nalbone, a Robbinsville town public information officer said that it was unclear as to how the incident occurred. All this came out after spokespeople for Robbinsville town first stated that the can of bear spray actually fell off a shelf in the Amazon center.
Naturally, a warehouse is a closed space and the exposure to a substance like bear spray is sure to cause some issues. Twenty four people had to be hospitalized for their exposure while another thirty had been exposed to the substance. One individual was reported to be in critical condition. Most of those who were exposed had the chance to be treated on the scene but the primary cause for being hospitalized was due to issues involving breathing. It's been said that everyone in the hospital should be clear to leave after twenty-four hours.
The entire incident required at least seven ambulances, according to ABC News, the fire department, and a medic. This means that it was a costly event for more than just Amazon, but also the city and ultimately the taxpayer.
Currently, Amazon employees don't have a union. However, the retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union did release a statement that mentions how Amazon "cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people's lives at risk." What this sounds like is the union trying to gain some public support so they can call attention to the situation.
They're not entirely wrong to do this as Amazon doesn't have the best track record when it comes to these types of things. Apparently, seven workers have been killed at the company's warehouses since 2013, according to Coshnetwork. The list, created by The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, also states that these deaths were preventable.
Amazon did release a statement that stated the safety of their workers is important to them.
Whatever the case may be, there could be better safety conditions at Amazon warehouses but an incident like a can of bear spray could have been much worse. Although, it is arguably a freak accident as these automated machines don't seem to often puncture the items.