If a chemical is potent enough to ward off bears, it’s definitely considered hazardous to humans. Amazon warehouse workers learned this lesson the hard way when an aerosol can of bear attack repellent fell off a shelf and instantly dispersed everywhere.
Employees at the fulfillment center in Robbinsville Township, New Jersey, quickly were overcome by the chemical, reportedly enduring difficulty breathing, a burning sensation in the throat, and stinging watery eyes. Rescue workers were called at approximately 8:50 a.m. to report to the New Jersey warehouse for help. More than a dozen employees were sent to five area hospitals and one patient was reportedly in critical condition. At least 80 employees allegedly were impacted by the incident.
The company evacuated all employees from the third floor of the south wing to a safe area while rescue workers tended to the accident. Robbinsville Township public information officer John Nalbone told the Daily News that the fire department had been dispatched to investigate “fumes” at the warehouse.
“It was isolated to that portion of the building,” Nalbone said.
Rachael Lighty with Amazon released a statement about the accident, confirming that a damaged aerosol can was the culprit. She thanked the “swift response of our local responders.”
“(It) dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility,” Lighty said. “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.”
It’s a wonder more employees weren’t impacted, considering hundreds of workers are normally inside the building during the workday. According to the Daily News, Amazon warehouse employees have complained about working conditions in general. In Minnesota, employees said they experienced exhaustion and dehydration without air conditioning.
Furthermore, bear attack repellent is nothing to mess around with. According to Yellowstone National Park, grizzly bear expert Stephen Herrero with the University of Calgary analyzed dozens of human-bear encounters and found bear pepper spray to be 94 percent effective in deterring aggressive bears.
Gary Clutter, a hunter from Bozeman, Montana, found himself face to face with a grizzly while hunting a few years ago. He told National Park Trips Media that bear spray saved him from an impending attack.
“I caught the bear (with bear pepper spray) full in the face when it was four feet away. It was like it hit a wall. The grizzly turned and ran so fast toward her cub she ran over it. Then, cub and sow were gone. This worked exactly the way it was designed to work. The bears didn’t die and all I’m out is a can of bear pepper spray,” he said.