- Workers at the Amazon DEN4 warehouse in Colorado Springs were shocked by the company’s response to the death of a colleague, 61-year-old Rick Jacobs, who died on the job due to a cardiac event.
- Witnesses say that the area where the incident occurred was walled off with large cardboard boxes. Workers weren’t told what happened — unknowingly forced to work next to the body.
- Workers were stunned by the lack of standard operating procedures for incidents like this, given that this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened at an Amazon warehouse.
61-year-old Rick Jacobs died from a cardiac event on the job at the Amazon DEN4 warehouse in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on December 27, 2022. A makeshift barrier of large cardboard boxes was allegedly used to block off the area where Jacobs had passed away, and workers were not notified of the incident nor offered time off to process their grief.
This is a stark reminder of the brutal reality of the exploitation of workers in the pursuit of profit.
This incident is not an isolated one. It is part of a broader pattern of worker exploitation and neglect in the logistics industry, where the relentless pursuit of efficiency and cost-cutting measures often comes at the expense of worker safety and well-being.
According to The Guardian, warehouses have taken over southern California communities like a “slow death,” pushing out residents and exploiting workers with low wages, poor working conditions, and a lack of benefits.
An Amazon employee at the warehouse, who requested to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, said:
“No one should have been told to work alongside a dead body, particularly after witnessing it. Day shift comes in at 7 am or 7.30 am, and we were never informed until we arrived to where it had occurred. No warnings before walking into the building. No on-site counselor. Simply a flyer put out days later informing us of how to receive mental health counseling.”Another employee who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation stated:
“Instantly I was pissed that we’re all business as usual and there’s a human being lying dead in the outbound area and I have to hear about it in the break room. Why is it that we are still working as usual when someone is dead downstairs? I was angry that they think that our lives don’t matter, that they’re going to sweep me out of the way to get a package out.”
The response from Amazon management to this incident is deeply troubling.
The use of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws and privacy concerns for the family of the deceased as an excuse for the lack of transparency, is a clear indication of the company’s priorities.
Amazon’s failure to provide standard operating procedures for incidents such as these, and their failure to take responsibility for the death of one of their employees, is a clear indication of their disregard for worker safety and well-being.
The workers at Amazon’s Colorado Springs warehouse have a right to be angry and criticize the lack of transparency from management. The lack of respect for human life, and the willingness to sweep worker deaths under the rug in the pursuit of profit, are fundamental problems in our capitalist system.
It is time for workers and communities to demand an end to the exploitation and neglect that pervades the logistics industry and for a systemic change toward an economy that prioritizes workers and human well-being over profit.
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