A CLUMSY robot has punctured a can of bear repellent inside an Amazon factory, leaving workers gasping for air and suffering “burning throats”.
One employee at the New Jersey-based centre was left in a critical condition, while a further 24 were hospitalised after exposure to fumes containing capsaicin, found in chilli peppers, say reports.
A total 54 workers at the Robbinsville distribution centre were overcome by the repellent, used to deter aggressive or charging bears.
Robbinsville township spokesman John Nalbone told ABC7 that an automated machine accidentally pierced the can of bear repellent, releasing capsaicin on the third floor of the warehouse building.
Amazon said that the incident resulted in strong fumes being dispersed, and that bosses are investigating.
Rachael Lighty, regional manager, external communications for Amazon Operations, said: “Today at our Robbinsville fulfilment centre, a damaged aerosol can dispersed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility.
“The safety of our employees is our top priority and as such, all employees in that area were relocated to a safe place.
“Employees experiencing symptoms are being treated onsite.
“As a precaution, some employees have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment.”
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The facility covers one million square feet, and employs more than 2,500 full-time staff year-round, she added.
Robbinsville’s health and fire bosses cleared the building for re-entry late Wednesday.
Lighty said that all those hospitalised were expected to be released by the end of today.