Bear spray accident at Amazon warehouse shines light on safety record

Internet giant Amazon was urged by a worker advocacy group weeks ago to give workplace safety urgent attention.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health said seven workers nationwide have died in accidents at Amazon warehouses since 2013, tamping down praise the company received for raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour .

At least two dozen workers at Amazon's Robbinsville, New Jersey, plant were hospitalized Wednesday, officials said, after a can of bear repellent fell off a shelf, putting a fresh spotlight on the internet company's safety record.

Amazon recently turned down a bid by Newark for its second headquarters in favor of Queens and Northern Virginia, but the company still has a huge stake in New Jersey, with 16,000 employees at nine fulfillment centers in the state.

Among the incidents: Roland Smith, 57, a temporary employee, was dragged and crushed to death by a conveyor belt in a December 2013 accident at Amazon's warehouse in Avenel, New Jersey.

"The pressure to move products will be intense inside the company's warehouses," Peter Dooley, safety and health project consultant for the group, said of the holiday shopping season.

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