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Amazon workers complain of heat, cold at Pennsylvania facility

November 8, 2011 |  3:18 pm

Amffctrphoejoshualottbb, the world's largest Internet retailer, got lots of scrutiny in September when a Pennsylvania newspaper published a story about workers fainting and suffering other heat-related health problems when temperatures rose to triple digits inside a local distribution center.

Now, employees at Amazon's Breinigsville, Pa., facility are complaining that they're being left out in the cold.

They were forced to spend hours outside in nighttime temperatures in the 20s after they had to leave the building without coats when fire alarms sounded a year ago, the Morning Call newspaper reported last week. Several people required medical attention.

Amazon subsequently changed its evacuation policies and provided employees with cold-weather gear and hand warmers, the newspaper said. The company also said that it had installed air conditioning at the same order-fulfillment center following heat waves last summer.

Both the summer and winter incidents prompted investigations by the federal workplace safety agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Amazon released data to the Morning Call showing that its incidence of worker injury and illness, as reported to OSHA, in U.S. warehouses between 2006 and the third quarter of 2011 was lower than the rates reported by general warehousing, automobile manufacturing and department stores.


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-- Marc Lifsher

Photo: Amazon fulfillment center in Phoenix. Credit: Jushua Lott / Bloomberg