US Department of Labor accuses Amazon of failing to keep warehouse workers safe | CNN Business
Amazon has been accused by federal safety regulators of failing to keep warehouse workers safe from occupational hazards at three US facilities, in the latest example from the government. officials looking into the e-commerce giant’s labor practices.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Amazon and issued hazard letters related to the risks of injury to workers lifting packages after inspecting three warehouse facilities in Deltona, Florida; Waukegan, Illinois; and New Windsor, New York.
“Each of these inspections found work processes designed for speed but not safety, resulting in serious worker injuries,” Doug Park, OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor, he said in a statement on Wednesday.
“While Amazon has developed impressive systems to ensure that its customers’ orders are shipped efficiently and quickly, the company has not demonstrated the same level of commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of its workers,” Parker added.
The DOL said OSHA investigators found that Amazon’s warehouse workers were at higher risk of low back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders related to the high frequency with which their workers had to lift packages , the weight of these items, the awkward postures required while lifting. and the long hours required to complete assigned tasks.
The agency said Amazon faces a total of $60,269 in proposed penalties.
An Amazon spokesman said the company does not “strongly” disagree with OSHA’s claims and intends to appeal.
“We have cooperated fully and the government’s allegations do not reflect the reality of security on our sites,” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel told CNN in a statement Wednesday. “Over the past few months we have demonstrated how hard we work every day to mitigate risk and protect our people, and our publicly available data shows that we have reduced injury rates by almost 15% between 2019 and 2021.”
Nantel said the company hopes to share more information during the appeals process “about the many safety innovations, process improvements and investments we are making to further reduce injuries.”
The company said it has taken a number of measures to reduce the risk of injury, including introducing stretching groups, reminding workers to take breaks and rotating jobs. But Amazon is also known for closely monitoring worker productivity and for working conditions that have been called “grueling.”
“We have to keep up,” said Jennifer Bates, an Amazon warehouse worker who helped organize a union push at an Alabama facility, in testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2021. “My workday is intense nine hours. training every day. And they track our every move.”
A study published last year by a coalition of labor unions found that the rate of serious injuries in 2021 at Amazon’s US warehouses was double that of other non-Amazon warehouses. Amazon said at the time that it and other companies “saw an increase in recordable injuries during this 2020-2021 period as we trained so many new people” to meet demand early in the pandemic.