Over the last few years, Amazon has increasingly come under fire for its labor practices including the numerous injuries and deaths that have occurred in their warehouses. This issue has become exacerbated to the point that the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health has placed Amazon on its “dirty dozen list.” According to the council, Amazon was named on the list due to its high incidence of worker suicide attempts, reports of overworked employees, and overall poor treatment of both contract and temporary workers. According to information gathered by the council, 13 workers have died at U.S. Amazon facilities or operations since 2013.
Yet another death was added to this tally on September 2 of this year. Billy Foister, an Amazon employee that worked at the warehouse in Etna, Ohio died of a heart attack on the floor of the warehouse in which he worked. According to reporting from the Guardian, Foister was left lying on the ground for 20 minutes after his attack. It is reported that during this 20-minute window, Foister was given no aid and 911 was not called until after Foister’s body was noticed by another employee.
Amazon, in an email statement to the Guardian, claims that they noticed Foister’s plight and had gotten him help minutes after he fell to the ground. Amazon also maintains that Foister did not die in their warehouse, but at the hospital. However, an Amazon employee on the same shift as Foister told the Guardian “Bill was laying there for 20 minutes and nobody nearby saw until an Amnesty worker with a radio came by.” Amnesty workers are Amazon’s equivalent to shift supervisors.
According to Foister’s brother Edward, Foister had visited the Amazon AmCare clinic a week before his death complaining of chest pains and headaches. The clinicians told Foister that he was dehydrated and sent him back to work.
This is not the first death that has occurred at the Etna warehouse. Another death was reported in March 2019; Amazon employee Joe Bowman died after going into cardiac arrest on the job. Amazon maintains that they are doing their best to provide a healthy and safe work environment. Some organizations, like the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, believe that they are not doing enough.
Joe Doner – Political Editor