The Outcry over Deaths on Amazon’s Warehouse Floor

October 18, 2019

In September, Billy Foister, a 48-year-old Amazon warehouse worker, passed away after a heart attack at work. According to his brother, an Amazon human resources representative informed him at the hospital that Billy had lain on the floor for 20 minutes before receiving treatment from Amazon’s internal safety responders.

“How can you not see a 6ft3in man laying on the ground and not help him within 20 minutes? A couple of days before, he put the wrong product in the wrong bin and within two minutes management saw it on camera and came down to talk to him about it,” Edward Foister said.

Amazon said it had responded to Foister’s collapse “within minutes”.

An Amazon worker on the same shift told the Guardian: “Bill was on the floor for quite some time and nobody knew that time until cameras were reviewed, but in 20 minutes a worker in a nearby department saw him lying on the floor and then began radio callouts for 911. It really is unbelievable how Bill was laying there for 20 minutes and nobody nearby saw until an Amnesty worker with a radio came by.”

The worker, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, noted the Amnesty worker started CPR after finding Foister. Amnesty workers are Amazon floor monitors who ensure the warehouse floors are clear and reset robot units when necessary.

The incident is among the latest in a series of accidents and fatalities that have led to Amazon’s inclusion on the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s 2019 Dirty Dozen list of the most dangerous employers in the United States. The report cited six Amazon worker deaths between November 2018 and April 2019, and several news reports over the past few years that have detailed dangerous working conditions.

Foister, a stower who scanned and stocked warehouse shelves with products at an Amazon warehouse in Etna, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, went into cardiac arrest on 2 September 2019.

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