Earlier this week, a robot at the Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey went rogue, ending up sending two dozen workers to local hospitals. According to a report from ABC News, the machine punctured a can of bear repellent spray, releasing concentrated Capsaicin spray into the air in the warehouse.
Capsaicin — a major ingredient in pepper spray — is a naturally occurring substance in peppers, giving the vegetables their heat. After the can was punctured, upwards of 24 workers were sent to local hospitals, including one in critical condition, while an additional 30 people were treated on scene at the warehouse.
"At our Robbinsville fulfillment center, a damaged aerosol can dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility," Amazon told ABC News. "The safety of our employees is our top priority, and as such, all employees in that area have been relocated to safe place and employees experiencing symptoms are being treated onsite. As a precaution, some employees have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment."
Amazon then continued on, reiterating that the safety of their employees remained their top priority.
"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."
Although Amazon workers aren't unionized, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) released a statement soon after arguing for better working locations at Amazon facilities across the globe.
"Amazon's automated robots put humans in life-threatening danger today, the effects of which could be catastrophic and the long-term effects for 80 plus workers are unknown," RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum said. "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."
All of the workers involved are expected to make a full recovery.