After an investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) slammed an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey with $7,000 in proposed fines and an 11-page citation, the company has opted to fight back and contest its alleged safety violations.
“We take safety very seriously,” Amazon spokesman Aaron Toso said. “We do not agree with the findings and will be contesting the citation.”
According to NJ.com, OSHA began investigating the Robbinsville, N.J., Amazon fulfillment warehouse on July 1 after it received a complaint regarding its recordkeeping practices. The agency’s investigation uncovered the online retail giant had not reported 26 different workplace injuries or illnesses required to be listed in the OSHA 300 logs.
While some of the injuries were minor, such as shoulder pain after pushing a cart onto an elevator that had gotten stuck, others were more serious, like one woman who tripped over a cart and hit her head. Amazon’s response to most of the injuries was to place the employee on light duty/work restriction; however, others were asked to take a leave of absence until their injury subsided.
“Failure to properly record occupational illnesses and injuries is hazardous to workers,” said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA’s Marlton Area Office. “The lack of accurate data can mask patterns of injuries and illnesses that could help uncover conditions with the potential of putting workers at risk.”
OSHA issued Amazon two hazard-alert letters following its investigation into the company’s safety practices. The first letter warned the company how its employees were regularly exposed to ergonomic risk factors due to frequent bending, exerting and standing during shifts up to 10 hours for four days a week, not counting mandatory overtime shifts. In order to alleviate employees’ health hazards, OSHA suggested Amazon be willing to give employees more break time, rotating them through different jobs as the day progresses, as well as providing chairs at their work stations.
OSHA’s second letter to Amazon discusses its on-site medical unit, AMCARE, which has been providing the company with medical care beyond its licensing and certification. OSHA suggested that Amazon go to the state Department of Health about how to get licensed to provide that level of care for its workers.
“In addition to keeping accurate records, Amazon should address the potential dangers identified in the hazard-alert letters to ensure the safety and health of its fulfillment center employees,” Dixon-Roderick said.