Amazon employee dies on job, colleagues ordered back to work: Report

Another Amazon employee died at one of its warehouses, wasn’t noticed for 20 minutes.

Graeme Gordon Montreal QC

It took 20 minutes before anyone noticed 48-year-old Amazon employee Billy Foister was lying on the floor unconscious from a heart attack, according to the Guardian.

“After the incident, everyone was forced to go back to work. No time to decompress. Basically watch a man pass away and then get told to go back to work, everyone, and act like it’s fine,” said an Amazon co-worker on the shift to the Guardian.

“How can you not see a 6’3 man laying on the ground and not help him within 20 minutes? A couple of days before, he put the wrong product in the wrong bin and within two minutes management saw it on camera and came down to talk to him about it,” said Billy’s brother Edward Foister to the British paper.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a nonprofit worker advocacy organization, has put Amazon on its “dirty dozen” list for poor working conditions that have led to injuries and deaths at Amazon facilities in the past several years.

“This year [2018], we’ll identify several companies who received specific warnings about safety hazards and failed to correct them. Workers paid the ultimate price for these failures,” said National COSH rep. Marcy Goldstein-Gelb at the time.

“Bill was on the floor for quite some time and nobody knew that time until cameras were reviewed, but in 20 minutes a worker in a nearby department saw him lying on the floor and then began radio callouts for 911. It really is unbelievable how Bill was laying there for 20 minutes and nobody nearby saw until an Amnesty worker with a radio came by,” said another co-worker to the Guardian.

“[Amazon works] hard to provide a safe, quality working environment for the 250,000 hourly employees across Amazon’s US facilities,” said an Amazon spokesperson.

Foister, who was a stocker and scanner, died at an Amazon facility in Etna, Ohio. It happened a week after he’d complained of chest pains and a headache, was sent to a clinic, was prescribed two drinks to aid dehydration and ordered back to work.

The same facility had another employee die in March from cardiac arrest, too.

In Canada, major city’s have been trying to woo Amazon to open new facilities in their jurisdictions by offering large subsidies.

“There was no reason for my brother to have died. He went to AmCare complaining about chest pains. He should have been sent to the hospital, not just sent back to work just to put things like toothpaste in a bin so somebody can get it in an hour,” said Foister’s brother. “It seems Amazon values money way more than life. If they did their job right, I wouldn’t have had to bury my little brother.”


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