OSHA Cites Amazon for Failing to Keep Workers Safe at Three Warehouses, Larger Investigation Ongoing

OSHA Cites Amazon for Failing to Keep Workers Safe at Three Warehouses, Larger Investigation Ongoing
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on Jan. 18 that it has cited retail giant Amazon for failing to keep workers safe at three of its warehouse facilities.

In a release, OSHA said the facilities—in Deltona, Florida; Waukegan, Illinois; and New Windsor, New York —were cited following inspections between July and August last year.

Those inspections followed referrals from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Specifically, Amazon has been cited for violations of the general duty clause in the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires employers to provide safe workplaces.

It was also cited for “exposing workers at the Florida warehouse to struck-by hazards.”

Similar investigations at three Amazon locations in Aurora, Colorado; Nampa, Idaho; and Castleton, New York, are ongoing as part of a wider investigation, OSHA said.

In December 2022, OSHA cited Amazon for 14 recordkeeping violations, which included failing to record injuries and illnesses, misclassifying injuries and illnesses, and failing to record injuries and illnesses within the required time, as part of that same investigation.

A worker drives a Powered Industrial Truck at the Amazon fullfillment center in Aurora, Colo., on May 3, 2018. (Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images)

Workers Made to Lift Heavy Packages

The regulatory agency has six months from a violation to issue citations.

OSHA said investigators viewing the retailer’s warehouses found that workers were at high risk of sustaining lower back injuries and other “musculoskeletal disorders,” which it said was due to the “high frequency with which workers are required to lift packages and other items; the heavy weight of the items; awkward postures, such as twisting, bending and long reaches while lifting; and long hours required to complete assigned tasks.”

In addition, OSHA investigators looked into on-site injury logs at the warehouses where it was found that workers experienced high rates of musculoskeletal disorders

In total, Amazon is facing $60,269 in penalties for the violations.

Doug Parker, the assistant secretary for OSHA said that Amazon’s work processes at the warehouses were designed for “speed but not safety” and resulted in workers sustaining serious injuries.

“While Amazon has developed impressive systems to make sure its customers’ orders are shipped efficiently and quickly, the company has failed to show the same level of commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of its workers,” Parker said.

In a separate statement issued by the Department of Justice, U.S. attorney Damian Williams said that Amazon workers have the right to work in a place that is free from severe safety hazards.

“These citations are a step toward protecting the hard-working people at Amazon’s warehouses who have been laboring under hazardous conditions,” Williams said. “And our office is investigating possible fraudulent conduct designed to hide injuries from OSHA and others.”

Amazon has 15 business days to comply with the citations or contest the findings of OSHA’s investigations.

Amazon to Appeal OSHA Citation

In a statement to ABC News, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said the company plans to lodge an appeal.

“We take the safety and health of our employees very seriously, and we strongly disagree with these allegations and intend to appeal. We’ve cooperated fully, and the government’s allegations don’t reflect the reality of safety at our sites,” Nantel said.

“Over the last several months, we’ve demonstrated the extent to which we work every day to mitigate risk and protect our people, and our publicly available data show we’ve reduced injury rates nearly 15 percent between 2019 and 2021. What’s more, the vast majority of our employees tell us they feel our workplace is safe.”

The Epoch Times has contacted Amazon for comment.

An April 2022 report released by the Strategic Organizing Center, a labor activism group, found that workplace injuries rose 38 percent between 2020 and 2021.

That is despite Amazon founder Jeff Bezos telling shareholders in 2020 that the retailer would become “Earth’s Safest Place to Work” following a $300 million investment in workplace safety. The company has also pledged to halve its warehouse injury rates by 2025.

At the time of the April report, Amazon blamed the rise in injuries on training new employees, adding that compared to 2019, its recordable injury rate declined more than 13 percent in 2021.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is investigating workplace safety at Amazon facilities across the country.

By Katabella Roberts