Amazon again cited by US regulators over worker safety

By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) – The U.S. workplace safety regulator said Inc has subjected workers at yet another of its sprawling warehouses to hazardous conditions by imposing onerous production quotas and failing to provide proper medical care.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Thursday said workers at the Logan Township, New Jersey, warehouse suffered bodily stress that was causing muscular disorders and neck and back injuries. And Amazon failed to ensure that injured employees received adequate treatment, the agency said.

OSHA said it had recommended $15,625 in penalties, which is the maximum fine allowed under U.S. law. Amazon has 15 days to either pay the fine or appeal to a review board.

Since January, OSHA has levied about $150,000 in fines on Amazon for allegedly creating hazardous conditions or failing to record work-related injuries at several other warehouses across the country.

Separately on Thursday, a worker advocacy group said it had filed a complaint with OSHA on behalf of employees at an Amazon warehouse near St. Louis, Missouri. They claim the online retailer imposes excessive, unsafe work rates and that they were mistreated by Amazon’s in-house medical staff.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. The company has said that it invests millions of dollars in worker safety and has cooperated with OSHA’s nationwide investigation.

Critics of Amazon have long accused the company of putting profit over safety by requiring employees to work at an unsafe pace and forgo breaks to meet demanding quotas.

The company’s safety record came under renewed scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those concerns helped spur union campaigns at warehouses across the country, including one in New York City where workers voted to unionize last year.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York)