You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Two dozen Amazon workers taken to hospital after bear repellent falls from shelf in New Jersey warehouse

The Independent logo The Independent 6/12/2018 Sarah Harvard

a close up of a sign © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited An aerosol canister of bear repellent fell off a shelf at an Amazon fulfilment centre in New Jersey USA and discharged fumes inside the building, sending 24 dozen workers - one of them said to be in critical condition - to hospital on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT).

The employees at Amazon’s Robbinsville Township warehouse reported having troubles breathing, and experienced burning sensations in their eyes and throats, John Nalbone, spokesperson for the township, told CNN.

First responders arrived at the facility in the morning after receiving a 911 call that 54 workers were experiencing symptoms. Soon after, an entire wing of the 1.3m square foot building was evacuated, and two dozen workers were sent to local hospitals.

Bear repellent spray, intended to scare off an aggressive bear, is similar to pepper spray in that it both contains a chemical called oleoresin capsicum. The chemical is found in chilli peppers that causes painful burning and stinging sensations. The only chemical difference between bear repellant spray and pepper spray is that the former contains a lower amount of oleoresin capsicum.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service recommends using bear repellant spray and has deemed it to be more effective in repelling charging bears than the use of firearms.

Amazon said the seemingly painful incident was caused by a damaged canister.

the inside of a building: image © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited image “Today at our Robbinsville fulfilment centre, a damaged aerosol can dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility,” Rachael Lighty, a spokeswoman for Amazon Operations, said in a statement.

“The safety of our employees is our top priority, and as such, all employees in that area have been relocated to safe place and employees experiencing symptoms are being treated onsite,” she added. “As a precaution, some employees have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment. We appreciate the swift response of our local responders.”

Amazon has come under fire repeatedly for reported cases of poor labour practices, negligence, and abuse of its workers at their warehouses and delivery routes. Critics admonished the electronic commerce company for overworking their warehouse employees and paying them low wages.

In July 2018, the Guardian revealed Amazon mistreated workers who suffered workplace injuries at their warehouses, and often left them to homelessness, unemployed, or deprived of any income. 

Meanwhile, the revenues from the warehouses, like the Robbinsville Township fulfilment centre, has made Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, the wealthiest person in history—raking in over $150bn —as of July 2018.

More from The Independent

The Independent
The Independent
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon