Am Wednesday, 24 Amazon employees who worked in a warehouse in Robbinsville Township, New Jersey, were sent to five different regional hospitals following the use of a 9-ounce, bear-spray canister.
Initial reports that the canister was pierced by an Amazon robot were not confirmed by either company Amazon or the township communications officer, John Nalbone. Nalbone told Ars that Robbinsville's first responders only reported that an "automated machine" was to blame, which could mean anything from a programmed robotic arm to an automated conveyor belt. (Of course, readers of Ars may feel that defining the meaning of "robot" is more than just an exercise in trifles.) This article by Wired deals in more detail with the topic.)
Am Wednesday night ABC News says one of the 24 in-hospital people was in critical condition while another 30 were treated on the spot.
In a statement to Ars on Thursday morning, Amazon's regional external communications manager Rachael Lighty said: [Wednesday, September 23, 2006] Our Robbinsville Fulfillment Center, a damaged aerosol, may deliver heavy fumes in an enclosed area of the facility. The safety of our employees always has top priority. A comprehensive investigation is already underway. All employees in this area were moved to a safe place and employees who had symptoms were treated on the spot. As a precaution, some employees were taken to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment. All affected employees were or will be released from hospital within the next 24 hours. We would like to thank all first responders who helped with this incident.
All Amazon employees were covered by health care provided by the employer, Lighty added. Amazon employees are not unionized, ABC News said, adding, "The fumes were limited to the south wing on the third floor of the fulfillment center." against humans, but it's still pretty irritating. The BBC reports that "bear spray", according to the "Get Bear Smart Society," causes almost complete but temporary vision loss and severe respiratory impairment in humans.
Worker safety in the presence of automation technology is an old story, and automation is generally a blessing to work safety. Although incidents become rarer, they can be cruel if they happen. For example, in 201