• Fifty-four workers were treated by emergency medical services after a can of bear repellent exploded at an
  • Twenty-four people were sent to a local hospital, and one is in critical condition, the Robbinsville spokesman John Nalbone confirmed.
  • The immediate area is being ventilated, but the entire warehouse did not need to be evacuated.

Fifty-four workers were treated by emergency medical services after an incident at an Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville Township, New Jersey, on Wednesday, a local official has confirmed.

A can of aerosol bear repellent exploded after falling off a shelf in the warehouse at about 8:50 a.m., according to John Nalbone, the communications and public information officer for Robbinsville Township.

Twenty-four people were sent to local hospitals, and one is in critical condition, Nalbone said.

Those affected reported having difficulty breathing and experiencing a burning sensation in the eyes and throat. Bear repellent is mostly made of capsaicin, the chemical found in hot peppers.

Officials determined that the entire warehouse did not need to be evacuated, and the affected area is being ventilated.

"Today at our Robbinsville fulfillment center, a damaged aerosol can dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility," the Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty told Business Insider in a statement. "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. We appreciate the swift response of our local responders."

The company has come under fire for its workplace practices before. A report released earlier this year by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a private nonprofit worker advocacy group, named Amazon as one of its "dirty dozen" companies. Amazon landed on the list for what the report called a "disturbing pattern of preventable deaths," noting that seven Amazon workers had died on or near the job since 2013.

"We are proud of safety record and thousands of Amazonians work hard every day innovating ways to make it even better," an Amazon representative said in a statement at the time of the report's release.

Editor's note: This story was updated to include new information about the number of workers affected by the incident.