Amazon faces investigation by federal prosecutors, OSHA over warehouse safety

A worker sorts packages in an outbound terminal at an Amazon fulfillment center in Eastvale, California on Tuesday, August 31, 2021.

Watchara Phomicinda | MediaNews Group | The Riverside Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors in New York and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are examining several Amazon warehouses as part of a civil investigation into working conditions at the e-commerce giant’s sprawling facilities.

OSHA, a division of the Department of Labor that administers workplace safety, on Monday inspected Amazon warehouses outside New York City, Chicago and Orlando for possible hazards under the referral received from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, said SDNY director spokesman Nicholas Biase.

“SDNY’s Civil Division is investigating potential safety hazards at Amazon warehouses around the country, as well as possible fraud to conceal injuries from OSHA and others,” Biase said in a statement.

A spokesman for the Labor Department confirmed investigations were opened at Amazon warehouses in New York, Illinois and Florida. It said it “regularly receives referrals” from federal agencies, law enforcement and other groups, and declined to share more information about the investigations, as they are “investigations”. positive investigation.”

Representatives from Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Office urges current and former Amazon warehouse workers to report safety concerns via an online form. It specifically highlights that they are seeking information on safety issues stemming from the speed of work in the warehouse and injuries that may have been poorly treated at Amazon’s on-site first aid center, which was called AmCare or at an Amazon-recommended clinic.

Amazon has been repeatedly criticized by lawmakers, regulators, activist groups and its own workers for its treatment of warehouse and delivery workers. Critics have increasingly focused on Amazon’s use of productivity quotas, arguing that Amazon’s relentless focus on speed will lead to job injuries at warehouses. Much learn by the Center for Strategic Organization, a coalition of labor unions, attributed the high injury rates among warehouse and delivery workers to Amazon’s “obsession with speed”.

Lawmakers in New York and California aimed for speed in Amazon warehouses passed legislation seeking to limit the use of overly restrictive quotas, among other things.

Amazon warehouse workers have previously complained that the company’s pace of work makes it impossible for them to shower and get enough rest, and lead to unfair disciplinary actions.

Workplace safety issues have been one of the catalysts behind the recent spike in organizational efforts among Amazon employees. In April, workers at an Amazon warehouse on New York’s Staten Island vote to form the first company of the United States company. Workers at another Staten Island facility refuse a unionwhile a second election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama being disputed. Since that election, organizing efforts have begun at other Amazon sites in the US

Amazon has previously said it supports workers’ right to organize, but doesn’t believe unions are the best option for workers.

Amazon refused that it uses productivity quotas in its warehouses and claims to have disputed unsafe working conditions. In April, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said The company’s injury rate is “sometimes “misunderstood,” but he admits Amazon can do more to improve safety inside its facilities.

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