- Federal safety regulators have fined Amazon $60,269 for putting workers at risk for back and joint injuries.
- Regulators said the injuries were related to the “huge pressure” Amazon puts on workers to meet production quotas.
- This quote is the latest in a series of regulatory actions targeting damage at Amazon’s warehouses.
Among several citations, federal regulators say the high rate of back and joint injuries among warehouse workers has led to the “huge pressure” Amazon is putting on workers to meet production quotas. are accusing
According to regulators, such injuries are “often acute” and extend beyond employment at Amazon.
The subpoena, which includes a $60,269 fine, is the latest in a series of regulatory actions focused on Amazon’s injury rate. Washington state regulators issued similar citations related to Amazon having a high rate of back, muscle and joint injuries called musculoskeletal disorders.
In December, federal regulators cited Amazon for not properly documenting worker injuries. Wednesday’s quote is for creating situations that hurt workers.
A study by Insider last year found that Amazon’s pace of work was putting more than 750,000 warehouse workers in the US at a significantly increased risk of muscle wasting and joint injury. An Amazon warehouse worker is four times more likely to suffer such an injury than a non-Amazon warehouse worker, a review of Washington state workers’ compensation data showed.
Federal safety inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration named three Amazon warehouses in Florida, Illinois, and New York. Similar inspections are being conducted at other warehouses in Colorado, Idaho, and New York, according to the Labor Department.
“Employees say they feel safe in our workplace.”
An Amazon spokesperson said in an email that the company disagrees with the government’s allegations and plans to appeal the citation.
“The majority of our employees say they feel safe in their workplace,” said a spokesperson. “We are making numerous safety innovations, process improvements and investments to further reduce injuries. We look forward to sharing more during the appeal. We know there are always ways we can do better, and we will never stop working to keep our employees safe.”
The company previously called reports of high injury rates “very selective” and said it takes health and safety at its warehouses seriously. Last year, Amazon donated his $12 million to the National Safety Council to “invent new ways to prevent” musculoskeletal disorders. The company has rolled out workplace safety measures in its warehouses, including a job rotation program, daily stretching, and training on how to properly lift and grip.
obstruction of workers’ efforts
But regulators say Amazon may not be fully aware of how injured its employees are. Inspections show that the company’s on-site first aid clinics are understaffed, poorly trained, and often fail to record injuries in accordance with federal law. in Florida and New York.
Regulators have found evidence in Florida that Amazon is actively impeding efforts to seek medical care for workers and access worker compensation payments. For example, Amazon forced an injured worker to receive treatment at an on-site clinic for three weeks before referring him to a doctor.
“Injured workers can be left with both chronic pain and disability,” the regulator said in a document warning employers to start remediating safety risks immediately. “Multiple interviewees described their ongoing physical limitations,” wrote the Hazard Alert Letter.
Florida regulators interviewed “several workers” who were laid off while injured, according to the letter.
Poor record keeping
Regulators also said some injured workers had to take time off work to recover and were told to claim short-term disability benefits rather than workers’ compensation benefits. Workers with short-term disabilities may not count toward their injury rate, which could benefit Amazon by giving the false impression that their injury rate is lower than it actually is.
Regulators concluded that Amazon’s recordkeeping of injuries was so poor that it was difficult to determine how the injuries occurred. This makes it nearly impossible to reduce the risk of injury in warehouses. A first aid worker at an Amazon facility in Deltona, Fla., was not a doctor but “a trained Athletic trainer of his,” according to regulators. In some cases, regulators have found Amazon medical personnel with revoked licenses treating workers.
Other danger rashes
Regulators also identified spikes in other hazards at three warehouses they inspected.
According to one hazard letter, warehouses in Florida had extremely high internal temperatures, exposing workers to illnesses such as heatstroke. At a warehouse in Waukegan, Illinois, workers handling large, heavy, and bulky packages were repeatedly hit and bruised by falling goods weighing over 50 pounds, regulators said. A survey of the injury records of
If the citation is valid after the appeal, Amazon is strictly required only to mitigate the hazards at its warehouses described in the citation. He said he hoped the citation would have a wider impact.
“If we are pointing out a hazard at an Amazon facility in one location, we want to consider the possibility of mitigating the hazard at another facility, consistent with our mandate to protect workers,” Parker said. “We’re not playing cat-and-mouse chasing across the country.”
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