The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the US Department of Labor has fined Amazon for failing to protect its employees. Investigators found ergonomic and other Hazards at three Amazon warehouses affecting workers’ health, including increased musculoskeletal disorders.
Amazon expected its workers at distribution centers in New York, Florida and Illinois to lift heavy objects at awkward angles for long hours — inspectors said.
The company faces a $60,269 fine for the violations, a tiny fraction of the $503 billion in revenue the company generated last fiscal year. But Amazon still wants to fight back.
Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in a statement that the company strongly disagrees with the agency’s findings and will appeal the decision, adding that injury rates at Amazon warehouses have fallen by 15% in recent years. A last report The Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that analyzed publicly available OSHA data, found that Amazon employees were twice as likely to sustain serious injuries as its competitors.
The investigations into Amazon warehouses
The investigation of the three warehouses began after they failed an initial safety inspection last summer. OSHA details a pattern of hazardous conditions at Amazon warehouses in a January 17 reportciting examples such as a 60-pound piece of furniture that “crushes/crushes” a worker’s face and a 150-pound piece of fitness equipment that causes a “distorted/sprained” leg.
Amazon has consistently prioritized meeting delivery quotas over the health of its employees, according to OSHA Assistant Secretary of Labor Douglas Parker. “While Amazon has developed impressive systems to ensure its customers’ orders are shipped efficiently and quickly, the company has not shown the same level of commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of its employees,” Parker said in an opinion.
The newly founded Amazon Labor Union has made increasing occupational safety one of its main demands. Heather Goodall – a union friendly Activist at a warehouse near Albany, New York – complaining about unsafe conditions in a interview with the guard. “We had packers that had objects fall on them. Several complained of concussions,” Goodall said. “You can see wires sticking out. It could cause lacerations. It could put someone’s eyes out.” The Albany warehouse, however voted against Union organizing in October.
OSHA too fined Amazon $29,008 in December for failing to accurately track workplace injuries and illnesses at six camps, including the same three camps that were fined this week. OSHA is also investigating other Amazon stores in New York, Idaho and Colorado.