Amazon Worker Dies on Prime Day, OSHA Investigates Warehouse Conditions

Advocates and state-level regulators have pointed out disproportionately high injury rates, which they tie to Amazon's demanding pace of work.

Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala Former Senior Writer
Laura wrote about e-commerce and Amazon, and she occasionally covered cool science topics. Previously, she broke down cybersecurity and privacy issues for CNET readers. Laura is based in Tacoma, Washington, and was into sourdough before the pandemic.
Expertise E-commerce, Amazon, earned wage access, online marketplaces, direct to consumer, unions, labor and employment, supply chain, cybersecurity, privacy, stalkerware, hacking. Credentials
  • 2022 Eddie Award for a single article in consumer technology
Laura Hautala
2 min read
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An Amazon worker died at a New Jersey warehouse during the week of Prime Day, the e-commerce giant's annual discount blitz, prompting an investigation by the US Department of Labor.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also opened a broader investigation into Amazon warehouse working conditions, according to the company. 

The cause of death for the New Jersey worker, who wasn't identified, hasn't been released. He died July 13, the first of two days when Prime Day deals were officially offered.

"We're deeply saddened by the passing of one of our colleagues and offer our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time," Amazon spokesperson Sam Stephenson said. HuffPost reported the death on Monday. An OSHA spokesperson said the agency is aware of the death and has opened an investigation.

The broader OSHA investigation is into warehouses in the New York City; Chicago; and Orlando, Florida, areas. The agency is looking at allegations of unsafe working conditions tied to "Amazon's required pace of work for its warehouse employees," according to a statement given to ABC News, which reported the investigations earlier.

"OSHA received referrals from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York regarding allegations of safety and health violations at several Amazon facilities," an OSHA spokesperson said, who added that such referrals are routine.  

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said the company will cooperate with the investigation, adding "we believe it will ultimately show that these concerns are unfounded."

The investigations come as Amazon faces increasing scrutiny for high injury rates. Regulators have tied the rates directly to the company's demanding pace of work, which Amazon enforces with surveillance of workers' movements throughout their shifts. Worker advocacy groups have found injury rates that are about twice as high at Amazon warehouses than at non-Amazon warehouses, based on Amazon's reports to OSHA. Amazon has said it prioritizes worker safety with new training programs and other investments. 

Workers have told CNET that they've faced delays and red tape in getting care and benefits after injuries at warehouses. Amazon said the workers' experiences weren't typical for its workforce.