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OSHA Hits Amazon With Sweep of Inspections, Citations

  • National
  • Topic: NATIONAL
  • - Popular with: Insurance

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday issued safety citations to Amazon Inc. and issued hazard alert letters after inspections at three warehouses found workers exposed to ergonomic hazards.

Doug Parker, the U.S. Department of Labor’s assistant secretary for occupational safety and health, said on a conference call Wednesday that the multi-facility investigation at the three warehouses — in Deltona, Florida; Waukegan, Illinois; and New Windsor, New York — is part of “an ongoing nationwide investigation of Amazon,” which has “created hazardous work conditions and processes that are designed for speed” and cause numerous ergonomic injuries.

“Our investigations determined warehouse workers are required to perform tasks at a fast pace, including manually lifting items from trailers, removing packages from a conveyor and stacking them,” he said, adding that the company “requires workers to work in awkward positions that make them prone to injuries; these tasks are performed up to nine times a minute.”

While Amazon has prided itself on being the “gold standard of logistics and warehousing,” Parker said the company has failed to show the same level of commitment to protecting the safety of its workers.

Similar investigations at Amazon locations in Aurora, Colorado; Nampa, Idaho; and Castleton, New York; are ongoing, according to OSHA.

Amazon said the allegations don't reflect "the reality of safety" at its sites and that it will appeal the citations.

"We look forward to sharing more during our appeal about the numerous safety innovations, process improvements and investments we're making to further reduce injuries," an Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement.

Lawmakers and regulators have been working to improve safety for warehouse workers in recent years.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul at the end of December signed S8922, establishing the Warehouse Worker Protection Act and prohibiting warehouse operators from establishing quotas that increase the risk of worker injuries.

A similar measure is before Minnesota lawmakers this year. House File 36 would require warehouse employers to document work expectations and prohibit quotas that have the potential to increase the risk of injury.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier in January signed a budget implementation bill that also created a Warehouse Safety Standards Task Force.

In 2020, regulators in Washington state created a new classification code specifically for Amazon fulfillment, which had a markedly higher rate of injuries compared to other warehouse operators. New rates adopted by the Department of Industries increased premiums for Amazon by 15% while reducing premiums for all other warehouse operators by 20%.

Business Insurance is a sister publication of WorkCompCentral. More stories are here.

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