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Amazon faces investigation after deaths of two workers

No employer in Pennsylvania finds it acceptable for an accident to occur in the workplace of his or her business. A work-related accident may raise questions about the standard of workplace safety and often is likely to open an investigation by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. It may lead to more workers getting injured, requiring the employer to pay hefty workers' compensation and penal citations from the OSHA.

Amazon, a globally renowned company, is recently facing investigations about its labor practices after two of their workers recently died in their distribution centers. The latest death occurred in Pennsylvania on June 1, 2014. This prompted the U.S. Department of Labor to launch an investigation into Amazon's distribution centers.

Amazon has issued a statement expressing its grievance at these workplace accidents and reaffirming its commitment towards maintaining worker safety. This, however, is not the first time Amazon has been criticized for its labor practices. A few years back, the company arranged for paramedics to stay beside a Pennsylvanian work facility after employees reportedly were suffering from heat exhaustion. Following public protests, Amazon installed air conditioning in the facility.

Amazon also hires a large number of employees on a contractual basis, meaning that the company avoids liability for certain accidents on the job and does not need to offer employee benefits. The absence of a strong workers' union organizing against Amazon and the company's activities in the virtual world, instead of the real world, are perhaps responsible for the lack of protests on the part of the workers of the company. However, given such a dubious record of workplace safety of Amazon, the family members of the deceased workers may be able to bring a lawsuit against Amazon seeking adequate workers' compensation for their losses.

Source: Dallas Business Journal, "Amazon labor practices under investigation after two worker deaths," Rachel Lerman, June 18, 2014

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