Ontario, Calif – The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new citations to Amazon for failing to keep warehouse workers safe.
The citations were issued after OSHA carried out an unprecedented group of coordinated inspections at Amazon warehouses and found overwhelming evidence of work processes that subject workers to serious hazards and injuries. The new citations cover facilities in Castleton, NY, Aurora, CO, and Nampa, ID. Jan. 17 OSHA cited Amazon for violations at facilities in Waukegan, IL, New Windsor, NY, and Deltona, FL.
“The OSHA citations confirm what we know: Amazon’s push for speed comes at the expense of our safety and health,” said Rex Evans, who works at KSBD, the Amazon air hub in San Bernardino and is a member of the worker organizing committee known as Inland Empire Amazon Workers United.
“Injuries are disturbingly common in the warehouse – I’ve lost count of how many of my coworkers have missed time or been placed on work restrictions because of an injury. For me, I work outside at the air facility so that means that associates stand in front of aircraft with running engines and we regularly inhale jet fuel. The planes are large and I have seen associates come within a hair of getting hit by a wing. It’s dangerous.
“Amazon can immediately make meaningful changes inside the warehouse to keep my coworkers safe. They must slow the pace of work and ensure our rate is at a safe speed. They must not retaliate and fire people for speaking up about safety issues and they must ensure warehouse workers have adequate time for rest and bathroom breaks.”
DOJ ALSO INVESTIGATING AMAZON
The unprecedented OSHA citations come as the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced that it is also investigating whether Amazon misled and potentially defrauded creditors about labor compliance and the rate of injury inside its warehouses.
The U.S. Attorney is specifically investigating possible misrepresentations by Amazon to its lenders regarding Amazon’s safety problems under the 1989 Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act.
Background on the OSHA Investigation from the Strategic Organizing Center
For over two years, the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA and its sister agency in Washington State have been investigating Amazon worker complaints of serious job hazards from abusive workloads. They issued violations for workload hazards in Washington in 2021 and 2022, and ordered prompt “abatement” of those violations – even during Amazon’s interminable appeals of those violations.
These violations have found that the illegal dangers not only involve lifting and moving heavy packages causing high risks of serious injuries – but also that the very speed of the work itself, combined with the company’s strict discipline system, “[put] pressure … on workers to maintain that pace without adequate recovery time to reduce the risk of MSDs. There is a direct connection between Amazon’s employee monitoring and discipline systems and workplace [injuries].”
Federal OSHA has now found similar violations in which Amazon’s equipment, production operations (including Amazon’s own robots) and HR systems together combine to create extraordinary risks of serious injuries. These include the kinds of severely disabling back and shoulder injuries that can prevent workers from ever again doing the manual work which delivers the orders to American consumers every day.
OSHA also found in 2022 that Amazon’s workload hazards were “Willful” violations – a rare determination in OSHA investigations anywhere in any industry.
While Federal and state OSHA agencies have been doing safety inspections at Amazon for far longer, their recent inspections of abusive workloads – launched on a coordinated basis nationally – are unprecedented in OSHA’s 50-year history.
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About the WWRC
The Warehouse Worker Resource Center is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), organization founded in 2011 dedicated to improving working conditions in the warehouse industry in Southern California. We focus on education, advocacy and action to change poor working conditions in the largest warehousing hub in the country.