The mega-retailer Amazon.com has been cited by federal inspectors for failing to properly record some work-related injuries and illnesses at six separate warehouse facilities, the U.S. Department of Labor said today.
The charges are part of ongoing investigations in five states, including Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, and New York, according to the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Investigators launched a series of inspections in July, following referrals from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. To date, they have discovered violations at sites in: Deltona, Florida; Waukegan, Illinois; New Windsor, New York; Aurora, Colorado; Nampa, Idaho; and Castleton, New York.
Specifically, OSHA issued Amazon citations for 14 record-keeping violations, including failing to record some injuries and illnesses, misclassifying some injuries and illnesses, not recording some injuries and illnesses within the required time, and not providing OSHA with some timely injury and illness records.
“Solving health and safety problems in the workplace requires injury and illness records to be accurate and transparent,” Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said in a release. “Our concern is that nothing will be done to keep an injury from recurring if it isn’t even recorded in the logbook which – in a company the size of Amazon – could have significant consequences for a large number of workers.”
In reply, Amazon acknowledged that it might have made some administrative errors, but noted that OSHA itself had categorized each of the charges as “other than serious.”
“The safety of our employees is our top priority, and we invest hundreds of millions of dollars every year into ensuring we have a robust safety program to protect them. Accurate recordkeeping is a critical element of that program and while we acknowledge there might have been a small number of administrative errors over the years, we are confident in the numbers we’ve reported to the government,” Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said in an email. “We are reviewing OSHA’s allegations and are pleased that OSHA acknowledged that all of the alleged violations are ‘other than serious’ and involve minor infractions.”
Despite the number of violations, Amazon is unlikely to face a significant punishment. OSHA has proposed a penalty of $29,008, while the Seattle-based company declared a 2021 net income of $33.4 billion on net sales of $469.8 billion.
However, the findings may give more leverage to labor groups, who have argued for years that Amazon employees suffer injuries at greater rates than the industry average, saying the company pushes its workers too hard to fulfill orders in its automated warehouses. Those same concerns helped motivate Amazon workers in April to create the first union of company workers, in a vote at a fulfilment center on Staten Island, New York. The Amazon Labor Union says its demands include “better pay, better benefits, and better working conditions.”
Editor's note: This story was revised on December 16 to include Amazon’s response.