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OSHA Cites Five Firms After Temporary Worker Dies at Amazon Fulfillment Center

June 16, 2014
An OSHA investigation into the death of a temporary worker at an Amazon fulfillment center in Avenel, N.J., has prompted the agency to cite five firms for safety violations.

An OSHA investigation into the death of a temporary worker at an Amazon fulfillment center in Avenel, N.J., has prompted the agency to cite five firms for safety violations.

On Dec. 4, 2013, temporary worker Ronald Smith died after he was caught in between a conveyor system and crushed while performing sorting operations at the Amazon facility.

Based on its investigation into the fatality, OSHA has cited five companies for serious violations, including the contractor responsible for operating the facility, and four temporary staffing agencies.

"Temporary staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for the safety and health of temporary employees,” said Patricia Jones, director of OSHA's Avenel Area Office. “These employers must assess the worksite to ensure that workers are adequately protected from potential hazards. It is essential that employers protect all workers from job hazards – both temporary and permanent workers."

Amazon contracted Pittsburgh-based Genco, a third-party logistics provider, to direct temporary employees from four staffing agencies involved in sorting operations at the New Jersey facility. The employees were required to monitor the conveyors and sorting machine to ensure that packages were positioned properly while traveling over the conveyor and sorting belts, according to OSHA.

Genco received one serious violation for allegedly not certifying that a hazard assessment of the facility had been conducted before assigning employees to work.

Four temporary staffing agencies each received one serious citation for their alleged failure to perform a hazard assessment of the facility before assigning employees to determine if hazards existed. The agencies are: Abacus-The Corporate Services Co., which employed Smith; New York-based Corporate Resource Services Inc., doing business as Diamond Staffing Services; Remedy Intelligent Staffing Inc., doing business as a division of Selective Staffing; and Cincinnati-based Staffmark.

Genco and the four temporary staffing agencies each face $6,000 in proposed OSHA penalties. They have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply or contest OSHA’s findings.

OSHA is investigating a separate fatality that occurred June 1 at an Amazon fulfillment center in Carlisle, Pa.

In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers. According to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 708 fatalities involving contractor and temporary workers in 2012. The death toll accounted for 16 percent of the 4,383 total workplace fatalities in 2012.

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