Amazon Faces Nearly $50K in Fines With New Round of Warehouse Safety Violations

Amazon was hit with a slate of new workplace safety violations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Wednesday.

According to OSHA, Amazon failed to keep workers safe at three more of its warehouses in Aurora, Colo., Nampa, Idaho, and Castleton, N.Y. The agency has since delivered hazard alert letters for exposing workers to ergonomic hazards at these facilities.

The inspections follow referrals from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York that led the agency to open inspections and find similar violations at other Amazon warehouse facilities in Florida, Illinois and New York in July 2022. OSHA later opened inspections in Aurora, Nampa and Castleton on Aug. 1, 2022.

At all six locations, OSHA investigators found Amazon exposed warehouse workers to a high risk of low back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders. According to the agency, the risks they faced are related to the high frequency with which employees must lift packages and other items; heavy weight of the items handled by workers; employees awkwardly twisting, bending and extending themselves to lift items; and long hours required to complete assigned tasks.

OSHA reviewed on-site injury logs required by federal law and discovered that, in fact, Amazon warehouse workers experienced high rates of musculoskeletal disorders. Now, OSHA has proposed $46,875 in penalties for the violations at the Aurora, Nampa and Castleton facilities.

“Amazon’s operating methods are creating hazardous work conditions and processes, leading to serious worker injuries,” assistant secretary for occupational safety and health at OSHA, Doug Parker, said in a statement. “They need to take these injuries seriously and implement a company-wide strategy to protect their employees from these well-known and preventable hazards.”

In a statement sent to FN, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said: “We take the safety and health of our employees very seriously, and we don’t believe the government’s allegations reflect the reality of safety at our sites. We’ve cooperated with the government through its investigation and have demonstrated how we work to mitigate risks and keep our people safe, and our publicly available data show we reduced injury rates in the U.S. nearly 15% between 2019 and 2021. We also know there will always be more to do, and we’ll continue working to get better every day.”

These new citations follow similar violations OSHA issued to Amazon last month in three additional warehouse facilities in Deltona, Fla.; Waukegan, Ill.; and New Windsor, N.Y. Specifically, OSHA cited the e-commerce giant for violations of the general duty clause in the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires employers to provide safe workplaces. The agency also cited the company for exposing workers at the Florida warehouse to struck-by hazards. OSHA proposed $60,269 in penalties for these violations.

On Jan. 30, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington extended the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s six-month limitations period related to the investigations at these three facilities while Amazon complied with outstanding subpoenas and, accordingly, OSHA’s investigation continues.

In December, OSHA cited Amazon for 14 recordkeeping violations as part of the same investigation.

Amazon has 15 business days from receipt of the current citations and proposed penalty to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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