Dismay at the handling of death in warehouse

In the US, an Amazon warehouse worker died just before the end of his shift. But the work in the camp just went on, workers had no idea there was a corpse in the building. A similar case only occurred in August in the Amazon logistics center in Leipzig.

On December 27, 2022, 61-year-old Rick Jacobs died of heart failure while working at an Amazon warehouse in Colorado, United States. The Guardian spoke to eyewitnesses who reported how management dealt with the death and criticized the disrespectful handling.

According to this, the dead man on the loading ramp where he died was shielded from view with cardboard boxes to hide him from the arriving morning shift. Employees on the early shift are said to have started their work in the warehouse without being informed that a colleague had died and was still in the building. The incident was only addressed at a meeting a week later.

The employees expressed their anger. One person asked why she had to find out in the break room that there was a dead colleague on the floor below. Another speaks of a “lack of respect for human life” and wondered why it is possible to close the camp for repair work, but not after death. All employees in the report asked to be quoted anonymously because they feared negative consequences.

Not the first death

Death is not the first at an Amazon warehouse. It was not until August 2022 that an employee died in the Leipzig logistics center. The reports from internal voices and observers, which became public in a large-scale investigation by Correctiv, read like a copy of the Colorado incident. Cardboard boxes are said to have been used here to isolate the corpse, and shift work continued without interruption. Employees were only informed about the death of their colleagues on site.

Corrective wrote that this was “exemplary for the Amazon system, which relies on maximum efficiency and does not know any breaks”. Regardless of whether it is about health protection or data protection, Amazon has been criticized for years when it comes to dealing with employees. The Correctiv research uncovered structures of permanent pressure and constant control.

Amazon denies

Amazon did not respond to a press inquiry about the latest incident until publication. The company denied to the Guardian that cardboard boxes were used to shield the body. Managers would have made sure that nobody approached the dead man. Out of “respect for the deceased”, the press office did not want to make an official statement. When asked by the Guardian whether there were safety protocols for fatalities on site or what assistance was offered to employees after the event, Amazon did not respond.

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