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OSHA: Amazon failed to record some warehouse injuries

Amazon warehouse

Amazon, which earned over $33 billion last year, faces about $29,000 in penalties after failing to properly record injuries in five U.S. states.
(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

Amazon failed to properly record work-related injuries at warehouses located in five states, a federal agency said Friday while announcing it issued more than a dozen citations during the course of its ongoing investigation of the company.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it handed out 14 citations during inspections over the summer at six Amazon warehouses in New York, Florida, Illinois, Colorado and Idaho.

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The citations were for failing to record, or misclassifying, injuries and illnesses, not recording them within the required time and not giving the agency “timely” records of such matters, OSHA said. The e-commerce giant, which earned over $33 billion last year, faces about $29,000 in penalties.

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a prepared statement the company invests millions in a “robust safety program” to protect workers.

“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,” Nantel said, adding the company was pleased OSHA acknowledged “all of the alleged violations are ‘other than serious’ and involve minor infractions.”

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Seattle-based Amazon has long faced criticism over its workplace injury rates, which the company itself has acknowledged to be higher than the industry average in some cases. Earlier this year, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said that, while the company’s data shows injury rates for its delivery and courier workers were lower than average, injury rates for its warehouse workers were higher compared with its peers.

Labor and safety experts have criticized how the company tracks the productivity levels of workers who pack and stow packages and say the fast-paced environment of the warehouses could contribute to higher injury rates. Amazon has said it doesn’t have productivity quotas and it only evaluates its employees compared to their peers.

The citations arise from referrals that were made to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Nicholas Biase, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, said the civil division of the office and OHSA have been investigating potential worker safety at Amazon warehouses and “possible fraudulent conduct designed to hide injuries from OSHA and others.” The attorney’s office has been encouraging former and current Amazon workers to directly report safety issues to them.

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