According to three facility employees and photos reviewed by NBC News, Amazon improved the air conditioning system at a New Jersey warehouse where it put the blame for a worker’s death during a heat wave last month on a “personal medical issue.” In one image, a sizable new ducting system with ducts pointing upward has been erected on the ground level of the warehouse in Carteret known as EWR9.
The device, according to the workers, was a component of a new industrial air conditioner that the business added a few weeks after Rafael Reynaldo Mota Frias, a 42-year-old Dominican national, passed away in mid-July. It was unclear whether the system was currently operational. Additionally, workers reported that more fans had just been installed around the warehouse. According to seven workers at the site, the location where Frias was working when he collapsed was well known to be particularly hot and with limited air circulation.
Amazon claimed to update its facilities on a regular basis. According to company spokesman Sam Stephenson, “Our climate control systems continuously measure the temperature in our facilities, and our safety personnel are enabled to take action to resolve any temperature-related issues.” He said that the business takes safeguards for employee safety in hot weather, always makes water stations available (not only on hot days), and promotes water breaks.
In the midst of a summer with record heat across the nation, Amazon and other big logistics operators, such as UPS and FedEx, have come under increasing scrutiny for working conditions. Concerns have been made concerning the safety of delivery drivers, warehouse workers, and others who spend the summer working outside or in vast industrial facilities due to the high temperatures. Numerous employees at an Amazon air hub in San Bernardino, California, staged a walkout last week, among other reasons citing the dangers heat poses to their jobs.
After receiving numerous reports of injuries at Amazon facilities over the years, federal authorities, including the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, launched an investigation into the company’s warehouses this summer. They asked employees, managers, and others about the working environment there. Employees at the Carteret completion center said that after Frias’ passing, supervisors started providing more water and snacks and promoting breaks, which infuriated and perplexed the EWR9 employees.
One EWR9 employee and a picture of the chart claim that management put charts depicting dehydration dangers denoted by urine color in some of the facility’s restrooms after the worker passed away. Amazon didn’t respond to the bathroom notices right away. “Amazon is a company that responds to circumstances. They’re not proactive,” claimed the employee, who requested anonymity out of concern for negative consequences. They pretend to be doing something after waiting for something to happen.
After Frias’ passing, the employee claimed that supervisors made sure there were fans at every workstation, but that areas of the warehouse with insufficient cold air continued to be extremely hot. Every station didn’t have a fan before he died, the employee claimed. “A fan is blowing hot air on you while it’s heated inside a warehouse.”
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