UPI, 1 FEBRUARY — The Department of Labor stated on Wednesday that Amazon will be fined for safety violations at three more warehouses, two weeks after the online retail giant was penalised for unsafe labour conditions at several other fulfilment centres.
OSHA issued violations to Amazon warehouses in Aurora, Idaho, and New York for back injuries and excessive hours worked. After OSHA conducted inspections last year, the agency issued hazard alert letters because the workplace posed ergonomic risks to the employees.
OSHA fined three Amazon warehouses a total of $46,875 in August 2022 after discovering an unusually high percentage of musculoskeletal diseases among the workforce through a study of accident logs.
According to Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker, “Amazon’s operational practises are creating hazardous work conditions and processes, resulting to serious worker accidents.”
The corporation “has to take these injuries seriously and create a company-wide policy to safeguard its employees from these well-known and preventable hazards,” Parker added.
The inspections came after three other Amazon warehouses in Florida, Illinois, and New York were found to have similar breaches, with workers at significant risk for lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal diseases owing to lifting packages and other products for lengthy hours. Infraction fees for that category were $60,269 last month.
OSHA stated that Amazon put its employees at risk of harm at all six of its warehouses due to the high frequency and heavy weight of package lifting.
Employees were working long hours and “awkwardly twisting, bending, and extending oneself to lift goods,” according to investigators.
OSHA wrote to the Idaho warehouse, “Workers experience significant pressure to achieve speed of work and output requirements at the risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries, which are often acute.”
OSHA also suggested that Amazon may have underreported injuries, as required by law, due to a lack of staff.
A lack of enough staffing at the Wellness Center, Amazon’s on-site first-aid clinic, which, as our investigation has shown, is a key mechanism by which Amazon gathers injuries to report, is cited as evidence that injuries may not have been recorded, according to the letter.
OSHA issued 14 recordkeeping violations to Amazon in December of 2022 as a result of the same investigation. The deadline for Amazon to respond to the citations or appeal the findings is soon approaching.
Amazon has denied the charges and expects to appeal, according to a statement released last month by spokesman Kelly Nantel.
The government’s charges “don’t reflect the reality of safety at our sites,” Nantel said, adding that the company had cooperated fully. Since the beginning of this year, “we’ve proved the extent to which we strive every day to manage risk and protect our people.”