Amazon is reportedly installing new air conditioning equipment and additional fans at its EWR9 warehouse in New Jersey, according to a report by NBC News. This comes after Reynaldo Mota Frias, an employee at the facility, died on July 13, during the Prime Day rush, one day when the temperature rose up to 92 degrees. Amazon reportedly blames Frias’s death on “a personal medical condition” and denies reports that he told the managers that he was not feeling well. An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (or OSHA) is: listed as ongoing.
Another EWR9 employee told NBC that the warehouse gets hot, even in areas with fans. The company has previously received criticism from employees over how it handles the workload during its increasingly hot summers – last year some of the company’s warehouse workers in Kent, Washington told them to work “power hours” during a historic heat wave in the region. Earlier this year, a letter from US lawmakers cited that incident as they demanded answers from the company about its severe weather policy.
While it’s still unclear what role heat played in Frias’s death, Amazon doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to protecting its employees. Earlier this year, an advocacy group released a report claiming that the company’s warehouse workers were twice as likely to be injured than people who held similar jobs at other companies. And last month, OSHA reportedly extensive national survey workplace safety at the company, looking at whether the pace it sets for its employees prompts them to act in unsafe ways. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York say the investigation also seeks to see if the company has reported “improper workplace injuries” to government agencies.
Amazon did not immediately respond The edge‘s request for comment on the air-conditioning installation at EWR9 and whether it is taking similar measures at other facilities. Sam Stephenson, a spokesperson for the company, told NBC News that Amazon is constantly monitoring temperatures at its facilities and that it has safety teams that “will take action to address temperature-related issues.”
According to NBC’s report, EWR9 management has responded to Frias’s death by handing out additional snacks and water and posting charts intended to help employees determine whether they are dehydrated based on the color of their urine. The latter seems to be relatively common advice from the company — it was also referenced in a pamphlet leaked last summer that was allegedly intended to help workers prepare for their lives as “industrial athletes.”