Last fall, we discussed the investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) into four fatalities at Amazon warehouses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania during the summer. Three of the four victims worked at locations in New Jersey.
Now OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) have announced new citations of Amazon for exposing their warehouse employees nationwide to unnecessary risks and unsafe working conditions.
Musculoskeletal injuries are among the most common
These unsafe conditions include requiring workers to lift multiple heavy items throughout their shifts. This and other requirements of the job have led to musculoskeletal disorders for many workers. That’s according to on-site injury logs. Of course, these official logs often don’t reflect injuries that go unreported by employees or those not documented by employers.
This latest round of citations could require Amazon to pay some $47,000 in penalties. That may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to company profits. However, the bad publicity could cost them in sales if enough consumers decide not to spend their money with a company that fails to prioritize employee safety.
A top official with OSHA says, “Amazon’s operating methods are creating hazardous work conditions and processes, leading to serious worker injuries. They need to take these injuries seriously and implement a company-wide strategy to protect their employees from these well-known and preventable hazards.”
All warehouse work can be dangerous
Conditions at Amazon warehouses have received far more attention than those of its competitors. However, the fast pace, stringent quotas and less-than-healthy conditions of warehouses have caused similar worker injuries at warehouses and distribution centers run by other large retailers that increasingly rely on online shoppers.
At the end of last year, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a new law in that state called the Warehouse Worker Protection Act. Among its provisions is a requirement that companies disclose worker quotas to them. It also addresses the issue of workers being prohibited from taking required breaks.
Anyone who suffers a work-related injury or illness has the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits to pay for medical treatment and reimburse a portion of lost wages. Don’t let your employer try to discourage you from filing a workers’ comp claim or retaliate against you for filing one. If you’re having issues getting a claim submitted or approved, it can help to have legal guidance on your side.