Amazon workers hospitalised as robot accidentally releases bear repellant

A laptop crushing a bear's head

Twenty-four Amazon workers have been hospitalised after a bear spray can was punctured at a warehouse in New Jersey in the United States on Wednesday. Thirty of the workers were treated at the scene, 24 needed to go to hospital, and one remains in a critical condition.

Self-defense blogs seem to agree that bear spray is less incapacitating than pepper spray made to be used against humans, but it is still quite irritating. Employees were reportedly relocated to a "safe place", though those "experiencing symptoms" were said to be treated "onsite" - presumably not in the warehouse full of bear repellant.

All the Amazon employees were covered by employer-provided healthcare, Lighty added.

A spokeswoman for Amazon told ABC News: "Today at our Robbinsville fulfilment centre, a damaged aerosol can dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility". The employees transported to five local hospitals were done so just as a precaution and Amazon believes they are all expected to be released within 24 hours. "We appreciate the swift response of our local responders". Nalbone said that no danger was imposed on the surrounding communities as the fumes dissipated.

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

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President Stuart Appelbaum said: 'Amazon's automated robots put humans in life-threatening danger today, the effects of which could be catastrophic and the long-term effects for 80 plus workers 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 Occupational Safety and Health Administration's investigation into Wednesday's accident could take up to six months to complete.

"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", he added, emphasizing that as one of the world's biggest companies, Amazon "cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people's lives at risk".

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

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