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Death of Amazon temp worker prompts OSHA citations

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' preliminary data shows that in 2012 alone, temporary workers and contractors were involved in 708 fatalities, which is 16 percent of that year's workplace fatality total. A 57-year-old man who was working for a staffing agency contracted by a Pennsylvania-based logistics provider was killed while on the job on Dec. 4, 2013, at the Amazon facility in Avenel, New Jersey. He was executing sorting operations in the fulfillment center when he was caught in a conveyor system, which dragged him and then crushed him. He was transported to a local hospital where he later passed away from his injuries.

At the time of his death, the man was working for Abacus Staffing, which is one of five companies being cited by OSHA for serious safety violations. Four of those companies are staffing agencies and the other is Genco, which is based in Pittsburgh and is a provider of third-party logistics. Amazon itself was not cited.

The other three staffing agencies include Remedy Intelligent Staffing Inc., which was doing business as a Selective Staffing division; Corporate Resource Services Inc., doing business as Diamond Staffing Services, based in New York and Staffmark of Cincinnati. They are each facing a $6,000 penalty. OSHA is also investigating a June 1 fatality at the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Amazon fulfillment center involving a woman who was operating a motorized jack.

When a worker loses his or her life to a workplace accident, the family of the deceased could be left with serious financial problems to add to their emotional loss. Many of the financial aspects of the death should be covered by workers' compensation death benefits. However, if the death occurred because of employer negligence, the family may waive the death benefits and instead file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Source: Liberty Voice, 'OSHA Investigates Two Fatal Accidents at Amazon Centers," Stacy Lamy, June 15, 2014

Source: EHS Today, "OSHA Cites Five Firms After Temporary Worker Dies at Amazon Fulfillment Center", Josh Cable, June 16, 2014

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