Amazon has been fined a measly $7,000 after a 20-year-old worker was crushed to death in a gruesome warehouse accident that likely could have been prevented if better safety measures had been in place.
“On the afternoon of May 8, Caes Gruesbeck, 20, was trying to clear an obstruction on an overhead package conveyor at an Amazon distribution center in Fort Wayne, Ind.,” The Washington Post reported Sunday.
“He was en route to the jam in an elevated lift when his head collided with the conveyor and became trapped by the machinery, according to a Sept. 18 safety order. He died of blunt force injuries.”
Following an 11-week investigation, Indiana safety officials concluded that Amazon failed to provide a safe workplace “free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death.”
“According to the Indiana safety order, Amazon should have properly trained employees like Gruesbeck, enforced safety rules about driving elevated lifts under low clearance machinery and more clearly demarcated ‘danger zones,'” the Post reported.
Despite a finding of lax workplace protocols that resulted in death, Amazon‘s penalty was a safety citation with a pitiful $7,000 fine — the maximum allowed in Indiana.
Stunningly, the mega-corporation — whose 2022 revenue topped $513 billion — is contesting the $7,000 fine.
Making matters worse, according to the Post, Caes Gruesbeck’s mother is barred from filing a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court due to Indiana’s lenient labor laws.
Caes was her only child, who was just weeks away from his 21st birthday, according to his obituary. His mother is a widow, whose husband died in 2021.
Indiana attorney Stephen Wagner, an advocate for employee rights, was appalled at the puny penalty imposed.
“Seven thousand dollars for the death of a 20-year-old? What’s that going to do to Amazon?” Wagner told the Post. “There’s no real financial incentive for an employer like Amazon to change their working environment to make it more safe.”
Amazon has been plagued by numerous worker deaths in recent years, including three deaths in one month during the summer of 2022.
Amazon, the second largest employer in the U.S. in 2022, according to Forbes, has been under intense scrutiny amid mushrooming complaints of horrific working conditions and unacceptably high injury rates.
A shocking 41 percent of Amazon workers have been injured on the job, CBS News reported in October, citing a study conducted earlier this year by the University of Illinois Chicago’s Center for Urban Economic Development.
On Caes Gruesbeck’s obituary page, numerous commenters blasted Amazon‘s treatment of employees, and the state of Indian’s punishment for the company.
“I worked there at the time that this happened. Amazon doesn’t care like they should, they need to put more thought into safety,” one wrote.
Another commenter noted: “I just stumbled upon this page as i happened to read the news that state of Indiana fined Amazon with $7000 because of a death of Amazon worker at the facility. I am amazed to see how little a value of human life is.”
In email to the Post, Amazon spokeswoman Maureen Lynch Vogel defended the company’s actions — and its response to Gruesbeck’s death.
“Our thoughts continue to be with our employee’s family and team at the site,” Vogel wrote, according to the Post. “After the tragedy, we immediately closed the facility, notified Indiana OSHA, and began cooperating with their investigation.”
The email said Gruesbeck’s training was up-to-date, according to the Post, and that he had the necessary safety equipment on.
That’s probably a great comfort to his mother.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.