Amazon slapped with more worker safety citations amid findings of back injuries, long hours

(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday announced new citations at three more Amazon warehouses — in Aurora, Colorado; Nampa, Idaho; and Castleton, New York -. for failing to keep workers safe.

As part of the enforcement action, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration delivered hazard alert letters for exposing workers to ergonomic hazards.

OSHA cited Amazon for not providing safe workplaces in violation of the Occupational Safety and Heath Act’s “general duty clause.”

The inspections follow referrals from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York that led the agency to open inspections and find similar violations at other Amazon warehouse facilities in Florida, Illinois and New York in July 2022. OSHA later opened inspections in Aurora, Nampa and Castleton on Aug. 1, 2022.

At all six locations, OSHA investigators found Amazon exposed warehouse workers to a high risk of low back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders related to: the high frequency at which workers must lift packages and other items; heavy weight of items handled; employees awkwardly twisting, bending and extending while lifting items; and long hours.

Amazon warehouse workers experienced high rates of musculoskeletal disorders, OSHA said and proposed $46,875 in penalties for the violations at the Aurora, Nampa and Castleton facilities.

“Amazon’s operating methods are creating hazardous work conditions and processes, leading to serious worker injuries,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “They need to take these injuries seriously and implement a company-wide strategy to protect their employees from these well-known and preventable hazards.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, said: “Together with OSHA, the Civil Division of the SDNY is also investigating potential worker safety hazards at Amazon warehouses across the country, as well as possible fraudulent conduct designed to hide injuries from OSHA and others. “

“We take the safety and health of our employees very seriously, and we don’t believe the government’s allegations reflect the reality of safety at our sites. We’ve cooperated with the government through its investigation and have demonstrated how we work to mitigate risks and keep our people safe, and our publicly available data show we reduced injury rates in the U.S. nearly 15% between 2019 and 2021. We also know there will always be more to do, and we’ll continue working to get better every day,” Kelly Nantel, Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News.

Biase said the public can report workplace safety and injury-related issues at Amazon warehouses to the SDNY U.S. Attorney’s office.

“Anyone who has information about safety issues — including safety issues related to the pace of work — a failure to report injuries, or inadequate medical care at Amazon’s onsite first-aid center or at a clinic recommended by Amazon, can share that information with SDNY via the following link: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/webform/sdny-amazon-warehouse-investi…,” his statement continued.

In January, OSHA also cited Amazon for failing to furnish a place of employment free from recognized hazards that were causing serious physical harm to employees.

It was the second set of OSHA citations issued after referrals from federal prosecutors in New York who have been investigating workplace complaints.

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