OSHA cites Amazon’s fulfillment center in Nampa for ‘hazardous work conditions’
Federal regulators have slapped Amazon’s big fulfillment center in Nampa with a citation for allegedly exposing workers to unsafe conditions.
The citation, issued Wednesday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said Amazon employees of the warehouse at 5295 E. Franklin Road were required to perform tasks that exposed them to lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders.
OSHA also cited the company’s warehouses in Aurora, Colorado; and Castleton, New York. The agency previously issued citations for three other Amazon centers in Deltona, Florida; Waukegan, Illinois; and New Windsor, New York.
The U.S. Department of Labor, which includes OSHA, proposed a $15,625 penalty for violations at the Nampa warehouse. Amazon has 15 days to contest the violations.
“Amazon’s operating methods are creating hazardous work conditions and processes, leading to serious worker injuries,” said Doug Parker, assistant secretary for occupational safety and health at OSHA, in a Wednesday news release. “They need to take these injuries seriously and implement a company-wide strategy to protect their employees from these well-known and preventable hazards.”
The Labor Department began inspecting the company’s fulfillment center in Nampa on Aug. 1, after referrals from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York led the agency to open multiple inspections into Amazon warehouses across the country.
All six locations were cited for exposing workers to injuries related to lifting, twisting, bending, pushing, pulling, long reaches and awkward postures.
As part of the same investigation, OSHA cited Amazon in December for 14 record-keeping violations.
The agency sent a hazard alert letter on Tuesday to Nick Govin, the workplace health and safety manager at the Nampa warehouse, that said employees at the site “face immense pressure to meet pace of work and production quotas at the risk of sustaining musculoskeletal injuries.”
The letter also said investigators found evidence during their inspection that injuries may not have been reported because the company’s on-site first-aid clinic “is not staffed appropriately.”
The investigation conducted by federal authorities included private interviews with employees, an analysis of first-aid and treatment logs, video footage of workers performing certain tasks, and a review of injury and illness record-keeping forms for the years since the warehouse in Idaho began operating in late 2020.
When the site opened, Amazon said it would hire up to 2,000 workers to staff it.
Kelly Nantel, a spokesperson for the company, told the Idaho Statesman on Wednesday that Amazon reduced its employee injury rates in the U.S. by nearly 15% between 2019 and 2021.
“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,” Nantel said by email. “We also know there will always be more to do, and we’ll continue working to get better every day.”
In a statement emailed to the Statesman, Eric Frumin, health and safety director at the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions, said the violations related to employees lifting and moving heavy packages also stem from the speed at which they’re required to work.
Frumin said Amazon has a strict disciplinary system that puts pressure on workers to maintain a certain pace without adequate recovery time.
“Despite clear evidence and increasing pressure from OSHA and the DOJ (the U.S. Department of Justice), Amazon refuses to take responsibility for its notorious distinction of leading the warehouse industry in workplace injuries,” Frumin said. “Instead of fighting federal orders to design truly safe jobs, Amazon must start by admitting that its business model prioritizes speed and profit over safety.”
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