Federal investigators announced they have cited Amazon for allegedly exposing workers to hazards that resulted in serious injuries at their warehouse in Waukegan.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said on Wednesday they cited Amazon and issued hazard alert letters after inspections at three warehouse facilities – Waukegan; Deltona, Florida; and New Windsor, New York.
OSHA cited the company for violations of the general duty clause in the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires employers to provide safe workplaces.
The agency also cited the company for allegedly exposing workers at the Florida warehouse to struck-by hazards.
Similar investigations at three Amazon locations in Colorado, Idaho and New York are ongoing.
The Waukegan investigation was the result of notification from a U.S. Attorney’s office in July, OSHA said.
OSHA investigators found Amazon warehouse workers at high risk for lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders.
The disorders are related to the high frequency in which workers are required to lift packages, the heavy weight of the items, awkward postures required to complete tasks and long hours.
OSHA said they also reviewed on-site injury logs and confirmed that Amazon warehouse workers experienced high rates of musculoskeletal disorders.
Amazon faces a total of $60,269 in proposed penalties for the violations.
“Each of these inspections found work processes that were designed for speed but not safety, and they resulted in serious worker injuries,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.
“While Amazon has developed impressive systems to make sure its customers’ orders are shipped efficiently and quickly, the company has failed to show the same level of commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of its workers,” Parker said.
“Our hope is that the findings of our investigations inspire Amazon and other warehouses to make the safety and health of their workers a core value,” Parker added.
OSHA recently cited Amazon for 14 recordkeeping violations as part of the same investigation in December.
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement to Lake and McHenry County Scanner that the company takes the safety and health of employees “very seriously” and the company intends to appeal the allegations.
“We’ve cooperated fully, and the government’s allegations don’t reflect the reality of safety at our sites. Over the last several months we’ve demonstrated the extent to which we work every day to mitigate risk and protect our people, and our publicly available data show we’ve reduced injury rates nearly 15% between 2019 and 2021,” Nantel said.
Nantel said that the “vast majority” of employees report they feel the workplace is safe.
“We look forward to sharing more during our appeal about the numerous safety innovations, process improvements, and investments we’re making to further reduce injuries. We know there will always be ways for us to improve even further, and we will—we’ll never stop working to be safer for our employees,” Nantel said.
“It’s important to remember that musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, are the most common type of workplace injury across all industries, not just at Amazon,” the company told Lake and McHenry County Scanner.