OSHA Probes New York State Amazons For ‘Serious Worker Injuries’
An Amazon warehouse in the Hudson Valley is part of an investigation into causing "serious worker injuries."
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Amazon for failing to keep workers safe at three warehouse facilities, including one in the Hudson Valley.
Hudson Valley Amazon Failed To Keep Workers Safe, OSHA
The warehouse facilities are located in New Windsor, New York; Deltona, Florida; and Waukegan, Illinois.
Hazard alert letters were sent to all three locations.
Workers at these warehouses were "exposed to ergonomic hazards" according to OSHA.
OSHA investigators found Amazon warehouse workers at high risk for lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders related to the high frequency with which workers are required to lift packages and other items; the heavy weight of the items; awkward postures, such as twisting, bending and long reaches while lifting; and long hours required to complete assigned tasks. OSHA also reviewed on-site injury logs required by OSHA and discovered that Amazon warehouse workers experienced high rates of musculoskeletal disorders.
New Windsor, New York Amazon Workers Exposed To Hazards
OSHA cited the company for violations of the general duty clause in the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires employers to provide safe workplaces, officials say.
"Each of these inspections found work processes that were designed for speed but not safety, and they resulted in serious worker injuries," Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said. "While Amazon has developed impressive systems to make sure its customers' orders are shipped efficiently and quickly, the company has failed to show the same level of commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of its workers."
On or about July 18, 2022, and at times continuing thereafter the Amazon warehouse located at 500 Hudson Valley Avenue in New Windsor employees were exposed to ergonomic hazards which were causing or will likely cause musculoskeletal disorders, according to OSHA.
"During the Induct Feeder/Induct Belt Loader process path, employees were required to reach, twist, and bend, while repeatedly lifting packages from the bottom and the top of go-carts or Gaylords to the Induct belts at a high frequency, placing them at risk for lower back injuries," OSHA states.
Castelon, New York Amazon Under Investgiation
Similar investigations at three other Amazon locations, including in Castleton, New York, are ongoing, officials note.
Amazon Responds To OSHA Allegations In New Windsor
Amazon responded to OSHA's allegations, telling Hudson Valley Post:
"We take the safety and health of our employees very seriously, and we strongly disagree with these allegations and intend to appeal. We’ve cooperated fully, and the government’s allegations don’t reflect the reality of safety at our sites. Over the last several months we’ve demonstrated the extent to which we work every day to mitigate risk and protect our people, and our publicly available data show we’ve reduced injury rates nearly 15% between 2019 and 2021. What’s more, the vast majority of our employees tell us they feel our workplace is safe. We look forward to sharing more during our appeal about the numerous safety innovations, process improvements, and investments we’re making to further reduce injuries. We know there will always be ways for us to improve even further, and we will—we’ll never stop working to be safer for our employees," Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel told Hudson Valley Post.
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Amazon Facing Fines
Amazon faces a total of $60,269 in proposed penalties for these violations.
Amazon has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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"Our hope is that the findings of our investigations inspire Amazon and other warehouses to make the safety and health of their workers a core value," Parker added.