WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations at three more Amazon warehouses – in Aurora, Colorado, Nampa, Idaho, and Castleton, New York – for failing to keep workers safe and delivered hazard alert letters for exposing workers to ergonomic hazards.
OSHA cited the multinational e-commerce company for not providing safe workplaces in violation of the OSH 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. The risks they faced are related to the following:
- High frequency with which employees must lift packages and other items.
- Heavy weight of the items handled by workers.
- Employees awkwardly twisting, bending and extending themselves to lift items.
- Long hours required to complete assigned tasks.
- OSHA reviewed on-site injury logs required by federal law and discovered that, in fact, Amazon warehouse workers experienced high rates of musculoskeletal disorders.
OSHA 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," explained 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 Jan. 30, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington extended the OSH Act's six-month limitations period related to the investigations at these three facilities while Amazon complied with outstanding subpoenas and, accordingly, OSHA's investigation continues.
In December 2022, OSHA cited Amazon for 14 recordkeeping violations as part of the same investigation.
Amazon has 15 business days from receipt of the current citations and proposed penalty to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.