Federal regulators issued three safety violations to Amazon this week, saying workers at its warehouses in three states are spending too many hours repeatedly lifting heavy packages.
The warehouses in Aurora, Colorado; Nampa, Idaho; and Castleton, New York exposed employees to a “high risk” of lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The citations come less than a month after the agency had cited Amazon for similar safety hazards at three other warehouses in Deltona, Florida; Waukegan, Illinois; and New Windsor, New York.
“Amazon’s operating methods are creating hazardous work conditions and processes, leading to serious worker injuries,” OSHA Assistant Secretary Doug Parker said in a statement. “They need to take these injuries seriously and implement a company-wide strategy to protect their employees from these well-known and preventable hazards.”
Some injuries have likely gone unreported because the first-aid clinics at the Amazon warehouses have been understaffed, the OSHA investigation also found.
Amazon violated the general duty clause, a regulation passed in 1970 that requires employers to provide a workplace that is free of hazards that could cause serious injury or death. The company has 14 days to resolve the warehouse violations or face a fine of $46,875, OSHA said.
Amazon plans to appeal the fine, the company said Thursday in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch
“We’ve cooperated with the government through its investigation and have demonstrated how we work to mitigate risks and keep our people safe,” spokesperson Kelly Nantel said. “We also know there will always be more to do, and we’ll continue working to get better every day.”
In the OSHA citations issued last month, safety regulators found that employees were constantly bending, twisting and lifting as they raced to transfer heavy packages to and from carts, conveyer belts, trailers and tall shelves. Workers were clocked making these repetitive moves up to nine times per minute.
Amazon faces $60,269 in fines for violations at those warehouses.
Amazon warehouse employees have complained for years about the taxing pace of work filling orders and shipping boxes around the world. The grueling conditions pushed employees in New York to create the company’s first unionized workforce last April and also prompted workers in the U.K. to stage a walkout last Friday.
Amazon has said its warehouses are no more dangerous than other retailers and that its injury rates are in line with industry rates.