New York State In-depth

Amazon is threatened with a new round of penalties for violations of occupational safety

  • Quotas put warehouse workers at risk of injury, the agency says
  • Amazon has been cited for similar issues at other department stores
  • Safety is a key factor in Amazon union campaigns

(Reuters) – The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has again cited Inc for putting warehouse workers at risk of serious injury by imposing onerous production quotas.

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said inspections of Amazon warehouses in New York, Colorado and Idaho found workers were at higher risk of lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders.

OSHA said the risk to workers comes from frequently lifting heavy packages and working long hours to meet quotas.

The announcement came two weeks after OSHA said it had fined Amazon about $60,000 for identical issues at three other US warehouses. The subpoenas announced Wednesday include penalties of approximately $47,000.

Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in a statement that OSHA’s claims “do not reflect the reality of safety at our locations.”

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“We have worked with the government on their investigation and shown how we are working to mitigate risk and protect our people,” Nantel said.

But the OSHA citations make it clear that Amazon’s business model prioritizes speed and profit over worker safety, said Eric Frumin, director of health and safety at the Strategic Organizing Center, a union-backed group supporting efforts, Amazon camps too unionize.

“Amazon’s illegal production system and workload pose a daily threat to the safety of its nearly 400,000 warehouse workers,” Frumin said in a statement.

Worker safety has been a focus of nationwide union campaigns at Amazon plants. Last year, Amazon workers at the warehouse near Albany, New York, voted almost two-to-one against unionization, quoted by OSHA on Wednesday.

Continue reading:

US agency says exposed workers to safety risks

Amazon workers oppose union in upstate New York, hurting organizing efforts

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Daniel Wiesner

Thomson Reuters

Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) covers labor and employment and immigration law, including litigation and policy making. He can be reached at [email protected]

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