- A Department of Labor agency cited Amazon for failing to provide a safe workplace in its warehouse facilities, adding to the penalties the company already faces in an ongoing investigation, according to a news release Wednesday.
- Investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found Amazon warehouse workers to be at high risk for lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders. This is due to the frequency workers are required to lift packages and other items, long hours required to complete tasks and other issues, per the release.
- Amazon faces a total of $60,269 in proposed penalties tied to the violations. The company “strongly” disagrees with the allegations and intends to appeal, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement.
The citations announced Wednesday add further fuel to complaints about Amazon's warehouse safety record and employee workload. OSHA already cited Amazon for recordkeeping violations on work-related injuries and illnesses in December.
“Each of these inspections found work processes that were designed for speed but not safety, and they resulted in serious worker injuries,” Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said of the most recent citations in a statement. "While Amazon has developed impressive systems to make sure its customers’ orders are shipped efficiently and quickly, the company has failed to show the same level of commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of its workers."
One citation stemming from a New Windsor, New York, warehouse inspection said employees were exposed to ergonomic hazards during the package stowing process.
"The high frequency of lifts and height of stow shelves placed employees at risk for low back and shoulder injuries," said the citation, which was issued Tuesday.
To reduce the injury risk during the stowing process, the citation said Amazon could eliminate totes stored at floor height and have machines take on some or all of the process, among other measures.
OSHA’s investigation also found that employees in a Waukegan, Illinois, facility are being struck and injured by heavy packages after losing control of them during the manual handling process. Injury examples include a foot fracture from a 55-pound package and a "crushing/smashing" face injury from 61 pounds of furniture. The agency did not issue a citation on the matter, instead recommending Amazon voluntarily take steps to address it.
Nantel said the government's allegations don't reflect the reality of safety at Amazon sites, adding that the company will share more during the appeal process about advancements it has made to further reduce injuries.
“Over the last several months we’ve demonstrated the extent to which we work every day to mitigate risk and protect our people, and our publicly available data show we’ve reduced injury rates nearly 15% between 2019 and 2021,” Nantel said. "What’s more, the vast majority of our employees tell us they feel our workplace is safe."
The citations stem from OSHA's continued investigation into six Amazon warehouses in five states, which began this past summer. The agency isn't finished digging into Amazon's operations yet — the alleged violations announced Wednesday are tied to inspections at three facilities in Florida, Illinois and New York. Similar investigations are ongoing at three different locations in Colorado, Idaho and New York.