OSHA Cites Amazon for Exposing Warehouse Workers to Safety Hazards

On Wednesday, the US Dept. of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations against Amazon.com Inc for failing to protect warehouse workers from ergonomic hazards that subsequently caused serious injuries.

OSHA Cites Amazon for Exposing Warehouse Workers to Safety Hazards
Image credit: Adrian Sulyok / Unsplash

Facts

  • On Wednesday, the US Dept. of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations against Amazon.com Inc for failing to protect warehouse workers from ergonomic hazards that subsequently caused serious injuries.
  • OSHA inspections found "serious violations" that risked leading to "lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)" for employees at facilities in New Windsor, New York, Waukegan, Illinois, and Deltona, Florida.
  • The news comes after the agency received referrals from the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York — a joint investigation was then opened into the three facilities in July. The probe was reportedly expanded in August to include three other Amazon sites.
  • DART rates (days away, restricted or transferred) at these three warehouses were unusually high in comparison to 2021's 4.7 injuries per 100 workers rate for the industry in general.
  • The e-commerce giant was also cited for exposing workers to the hazard of being struck by falling boxes containing merchandise, and reportedly face a total of $60,269 in proposed penalties for these violations.
  • Amazon has disputed the citations and plans to appeal them on grounds that "the vast majority" of its employees feel that the workplace is safe. The online retailer also plans to appeal a $29,008 fine issued last December for failing to record injuries at its warehouses properly.

Sources: Reuters, FOX News, CNBC, NPR Online News, ABC, and Huffington Post.

Narratives

  • Left narrative, as provided by CNBC. Amazon's warehouse and delivery workers are the ones paying the price for the company's obsession with the development of speedy and efficient systems. Productivity quotas and the fast pace of work have prevented employees from taking adequate bathroom and rest breaks, while also contributing to high injury rates.
  • Right narrative, as provided by Fox News. OSHA's allegations do not reflect the reality of safety at Amazon warehouses. The company has been working hard to minimize risks and protect its workers, including by partnering with the National Safety Council and publicly committing to reduce musculoskeletal disorders, which are the most common workplace injury across all industries.

Predictions