Tuesday 15 October 2019

Amazon robot leaves 24 in hospital after bear spray accident

Stock picture
Stock picture

Matthew Field

A robot in an Amazon warehouse hospitalised 24 of its human colleagues after breaking open a pressurised can of bear repellent.

The automated machine accidentally punctured a 255g can containing concentrated capsican, an ingredient used in pepper spray, sending out painful fumes at the US Amazon facility in Robbinsville, New Jersey.

Local media reported 24 Amazon workers were hospitalised, including one reportedly in a critical condition, while 30 others were treated at the scene, officials told ABC News.

Amazon said: "At our Robbinsville fulfilment centre, a damaged aerosol can dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility. The safety of our employees is our top priority, and as such, all employees in that area were relocated to a safe place.

"Employees experiencing symptoms are being treated onsite. As a precaution, some employees have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment. We appreciate the swift response of our local responders."

Amazon fulfilment centres typically employ robots for automating some tasks. The warehouse was around 1.3 million square feet and was ventilated.

The local fire department said it was treating multiple patients, with seven ambulances sent to the facility.

Amazon's workforce now includes 575,700 employees globally as well as 80,000 robots known as 'Kiva' which operate in warehouses.

The orange robots operate at 15 sites in the US, one in Poland and are fully operating in Doncaster in the UK.

They weigh 145kg and can carry the weight of a small car. They have a top speed of 4.7kmh and must take a five-minute break every hour to recharge their batteries.

Irish Independent

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