A robot working in a New Jersey Amazon warehouse sent 24 of its human co-workers to the hospital, after it accidentally tore a hole in a can of bear spray. The repellent is essentially bear-strength pepper spray.
It was an accident — unless, of course it’s the start of a robot uprising.
The two dozen workers were treated at five local hospitals, Robbinsville Township communications and public information officer John Nalbone told ABC News. One remains in critical condition and 30 additional workers were treated at the scene.
The fumes were confined to the fulfillment center’s third floor south wing, Nalbone said. The warehouse is approximately 1.3 million-square-feet and was ventilated.
The fulfillment center was given the all clear by Wednesday evening.
Amazon employees are not unionized, but the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union issued a statement about the danger that robots pose to human workers.
“Amazon’s automated robots put humans in life-threatening danger today, the effects of which could be catastrophic,” union president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement. “The richest company in the world cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people’s lives at risk. Our union will not back down until Amazon is held accountable for these and so many more dangerous labor practices.”
The online giant insisted safety of employees is always their top priority. In a statement Wednesday night, Amazon said, “All of the impacted employees have been or are expected to be released from hospital within the next 24 hours. The safety of our employees is always our top priority and a full investigation is already underway. We’d like to thank all of the first responders who helped with today’s incident.”