The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched investigations into Amazon workplace safety issues complaints. OSHA conducted inspections of the e-company’s warehouses in Chicago, Orlando, and outside New York City on Monday for proof of the alleged hazards on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s office, according to SDNY Chief Public Information Officer Nicholas Biase.
He announced that “the Civil Division of the SDNY is investigating worker safety hazards at Amazon warehouses across the country, as well as possible fraudulent conduct designed to hide injuries from OSHA and others,” reported CNBC News. One of the possible hazards they are looking into is the required pace of work the company requires of its warehouse employees.
The pace and working conditions are the prominent complaints lodged by Amazon warehouse employees when they tried to form unions. “Employees say they don’t feel like they have enough time to even use the bathroom,” Forbes reported.
Prosecutors asked current and former Amazon employees to contact the SDNY office about problems with the company’s safety culture. They want information concerning work-related hazards, failing to file required OSHA injury reports, or reports of injured individuals who did not receive adequate care by the on-site first aid centers, according to CNN.
Lawmakers, regulators, activist groups, and employees have repeatedly taken issue with Amazon’s treatment of its warehouse and delivery employees. Critics allege the company’s use of productivity quotas that place a relentless focus on employee speed leads to on-the-job injuries at its warehouses. Additionally, multiple studies conducted by the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions, found that injuries among warehouse and delivery workers are attributed to Amazon’s “obsession with speed.”
Amazon has refused to slow down the speeds workers have to work at, or risk getting fired – even though workers say it contributes to high injury rates in warehouses.
But they've had no problem stopping work for mandatory anti-union meetings.https://t.co/v40NDIFP4V
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) February 8, 2021
Management routinely denies using productivity quotas and continues to dispute unsafe working conditions. In April, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy pointed out that ” the company’s injury rates are sometimes misunderstood.'”
An Amazon spokesperson, Kelly Nantel, told CNN they intend to cooperate fully with the OSHA inquiry. “We believe it will ultimately show that these concerns are unfounded,” she asserted.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
CNN: Justice Department opens civil probe into Amazon’s workplace safety practices; by Kara Scannell and Chris Isidore
NBC News: Feds investigating workplace safety at Amazon warehouses; by Tom Winter and Phil Helsel
CNBC News: Amazon faces probe by federal prosecutors and OSHA into warehouse safety; Annie Palmer
Forbes: Amazon Prime Day Offers Great Sales—Here’s What Workers Suffer Through To Make This Happen; by Jack Kelly