The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently issued citations to Amazon for failing to keep workers safe. OSHA carried out an unprecedented group of coordinated inspections at Amazon warehouses and found overwhelming evidence of job hazards and medical mistreatment. This has resulted in citations for facilities in Castleton NY, Aurora CO, Nampa ID, Waukegan IL, New Windsor NY, and Daytona FL.
“For the second time in two weeks, the federal government has told Amazon it is violating federal law by failing to keep its workers safe,” said Eric Frumin, Health and Safety Director at OSHA’s Strategic Organizing Center. “Yet despite clear evidence and increasing pressure from OSHA and the DOJ, Amazon refuses to take responsibility for its notorious distinction of leading the warehouse industry in workplace injuries. Instead of fighting federal orders to design truly safe jobs, Amazon must start by admitting that its business model prioritizes speed and profit over safety. Amazon’s illegal production system and workloads are a daily threat to the safety of its nearly 400,000 warehouse workers. The SOC calls on Amazon to tell the truth, drop its relentless resistance to federal worker protection orders, and finally give workers the breaks they need to keep them from getting hurt on the job.”
For over two years, the US Department of Labor’s OSHA and its sister agency in Washington State have been investigating Amazon worker complaints of serious job hazards. They issued violations for workload hazards in Washington in 2021 and 2022, and ordered prompt “abatement” of those violations – even during Amazon’s appeals of those violations.
These violations have found that the illegal dangers include the regular heavy lifting and moving packages – often resulting in serious injuries. In addition, the speed of the work itself, combined with the company’s strict discipline system put pressure on workers to maintain that pace without adequate recovery time to reduce the risk of MSDs. There is a direct connection between Amazon’s employee monitoring and discipline systems and workplace injuries.
Federal OSHA has now found similar violations in which Amazon’s equipment, employee procedures and production operations create extraordinary risks of serious injuries. The Justice’s US Attorney for the Southern District of NY has announced that it is specifically investigating possible misrepresentations by Amazon to its creditors regarding Amazon’s safety problems, under the 1989 Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act.