Shortly before the shift change, on the morning of last December 27, an employee of the Amazon warehouse in Colorado Springs, in the United States, died of cardiac arrest.
His name was Rick Jacobs, he was 61 years old, and his colleagues learned of his death by seeing him on the ground in one of the corridors of the structure: “Finding out what had happened only afterwards made me feel very uncomfortable, here there is a clear contempt for human emotions,” says another parcel dispatcher, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
None of the staff had been notified of the death. Witnesses say a makeshift barrier was built out of cardboard boxes around Jacobs, used to block off the area on the outbound shipping corridor where the man was fatally ill.
Amazon denied that the boxes had been used to prevent access to that area, saying warehouse managers just wanted to make sure no one approached for privacy reasons. “No one should be told to work next to a dead body, especially after seeing it,” adds another employee.
“The day shift starts at 7, we were never told what happened until we got to that point. No warnings before entering the building. No on-site consultants. They just put up a flyer days later informing us about getting mental health counseling.”
In a phone call, an Amazon spokesperson disputed claims that anyone was forced to work near the body. The company did not respond to requests to clarify what, if any, protocols are in place for similar incidents or what resources were provided to workers immediately following the event.
Another Colorado Springs warehouse worker said when he arrived at work that morning he noticed police and a fire truck in the warehouse, but no one told him why. Later, he learned from colleagues that one of them had died during the previous shift.
“I immediately pissed off because there’s a human lying dead in the exit area and I have to hear him in the break room.” “Why did we work as usual – he wondered – when someone died downstairs? I was angry because they think our lives don’t matter, that they can brush me off to send a package.”