Heat wave tested warehouse workers in Pa.

Oct. 1, 2011 at 9:56 AM
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ALLENTOWN, Pa., Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A heat wave this summer tested workers and management at an Amazon.com warehouse in Pennsylvania, witnesses said.

Some workers lost their jobs in the heat wave that pushed temperatures in the warehouse above 100 degrees, the Allentown, Pa., Morning Call reported Saturday.

"I never felt like passing out in a warehouse and I never felt treated (as badly) in any other warehouse but this one," said Elmer Goris, 34, who quit his job in July over conditions and management's behavior, the newspaper said.

Robert Rivas, 38, said he also quit his job when "the heat index got to really outrageous numbers."

During one shift, Rivas said, the heat index inside the facility reached 114 degrees.

Amazon said it was installing air conditioning at the warehouse that opened in 2010 and provides 900 to 2,000 jobs, depending on the season.

Amazon also provided "free water, snacks, extra fans and cooled air during the summer," said warehouse general manager Vickie Mortimer.

Another extra during heat waves: Paramedics were parked outside in ambulances during especially brutal heat, the newspaper said.

Was that a sign the company went the extra mile to ensure the safety of their workers or a sign that the company knew it was pushing workers too far?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, after an investigation, made several recommendations in August and the company complied, the Morning Call reported.

Co-director of the National Employment Law Project Catherine Ruckelshaus warned that hot weather and a stumbling economy are a bad mix.

"They (Amazon) can get away with it because most workers will take whatever they can get with jobs few and far between," she said.

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