The latest effort is in Washington State….
“This record of dangerous working conditions has been going on for a long time and nothing seems imminent in terms of change,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “And OSHA doesn’t seem to have sufficient tools to do anything about it.”
Amazon denies allegations that it knowingly puts workers in harm’s way and that it systematically conceals injuries. Spokesperson Maureen Lynch Vogel said the “vast majority” of safety inspections at Amazon don’t result in citations.
“In the minority of cases when there is a citation, we have a right — as does any company — to challenge it and present our case,” she said. “And if we do appeal a citation, it’s because we disagree with the allegations or the recommended changes aren’t appropriate for our type of operations. While we know that there will always be more to do, we’re committed to continuous improvement and the data proves we’re making significant progress on safety.”
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. Interim CEO Patty Stonesifer sits on Amazon’s board.
The renewed focus by federal and state regulators on safety at Amazon has played out amid a particularly trying year for the company. Long known for explosive growth and transforming the way the world shops, in the past year Amazon laid off more than 27,000 people, shuttered departments and killed off some of its innovative but unprofitableexperiments. Multiple executives departed, and morale issues have surfaced for some staffers as the company tries to insist they return to the office — a conflict which came to a head with an employee walkoutin the spring.
Workplace safety at Amazon first gained national attention in 2011, when a Pennsylvania newspaper reported that warehouse workers were passing out due to extreme heat — prompting ambulances to wait at the ready outside the building. In the years that followed, more complaints, injuries, inspections and citations accrued at Amazon warehouses around the country…..
In 2021, The Post reported that Amazon workers were seriously injured at higher rates than at other workplaces in the same industry. Amazon disputed those figures, and said its serious injury rates have since declined.
Washington state started building its case against Amazon that same year, when it inspected a warehouse in Dupont and cited the company for ergonomic safety violations. A subsequent investigation at a warehouse in Kent found the pace of work was putting workers at risk of injury. The state alleged Amazon failed to resolve the issues at the warehouse, and in 2022 brought charges of “willful” violations against the company, levying a fine of $60,000. It fined Amazon another $85,000 last month for more willful violations at a warehouse near Spokane.