Robot in Amazon warehouse hospitalises 24 workers with bear repellent spray

Amazon workers injured in bear spray accident

Bear repellent sent two dozen workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in New Jersey to hospitals on Wednesday after a machine punctured an aerosol canister of the spray, causing it to discharge toxic fumes inside the building, a town spokesman told CNN. One woman who had been in critical condition was expected to be released Thursday.

About 30 other workers were treated at the warehouse in Robbinsville.

According to media reports, the bear repellant is concentrated Capsaican, which is an irritant to mammals - as one would imagine for something meant to keep bears at bay. The safety of our employees is always our top priority and a full investigation is already underway.

According to an Amazon spokeswoman, the repellent was released in a "contained area of the facility" which was subsequently filled with strong fumes.

Amazon issued a statement Wednesday night stating that employee safety was its number one concern. Approximately twenty-four of those workers were taken to five local hospitals for additional treatment. "We appreciate the swift response of our local responders".

The warehouse was evacuated and vented.

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The accident has brought questions into Amazon's safety practices and the use of robots in the workplace.

The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union accused Amazon of "putting hard working people's lives at risk", claiming the robot had put its human colleagues in "life-threatening danger" and pointing out that the long-term effects of being sprayed with a can of bear repellant are "unknown".

"This is another outrageous example of the company putting profits over the health and safety of their workers, and we can not stand for this".

'The richest company in the world can not continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people's lives at risk. Due to the time of year, you can imagine how busy the warehouse must be trying to fulfill all the extra orders for the holidays, especially with Amazon's 12 Days of Deals promotion now underway.

Multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos' online marketplace giant has come under repeated fire for the poor working conditions in its warehouses.

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