Amazon faces investigation by federal prosecutors, OSHA over warehouse security

A worker sorts packages at the departure dock at an Amazon order center in Eastvale, Calif., on Tuesday, August 8. 31st, 2021.

Vatchara Fomitsinda | MediaNews Group | Riverside Press Enterprise via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors in New York and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating several Amazon warehouses as part of a civil investigation into working conditions at the e-commerce giant’s sprawling facilities.

OSHA, the division of the Department of Labor that monitors workplace safety, on Monday inspected Amazon warehouses outside of New York, Chicago and Orlando for possible hazards in response to a referral from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the head said. SDNY. press secretary Nicholas Biase.

“The SDNY Civil Division is investigating potential safety hazards for workers at Amazon warehouses across the country, as well as possible fraudulent activities designed to hide injuries from OSHA and others,” Biase said in a statement.

A Department of Labor spokesman confirmed that it had launched an investigation into Amazon warehouses in New York, Illinois and Florida. It said it “receives regular referrals” from various federal agencies, law enforcement and other groups, and declined to share further information about the investigations because they are “active investigations.”

Amazon representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The office encouraged current and former Amazon warehouse employees to report security concerns. via online form. He specifically emphasized that he was looking for information about safety issues related to the pace of work in warehouses, and about injuries that may not have received proper treatment at the local Amazon first aid center, known as AmCare, or an Amazon-recommended clinic.

Amazon has been repeatedly criticized by lawmakers, regulators, activist groups and its own workers for its treatment of warehouse and delivery workers. Critics have increasingly focused on Amazon’s use of productivity quotas, arguing that its relentless focus on speed is causing work-related injuries in warehouses. Several research The strategic organizing center, a coalition of labor unions, attributed the high injury rate among warehouse and delivery workers to Amazon’s “obsession” with an “obsession with speed.”

New York and California legislators set their sights on the pace of work in Amazon warehouses through legislation aimed, among other things, at limiting the use of overly restrictive quotas.

Amazon warehouse workers have complained in the past that the pace of the company’s work does not allow them to take breaks for the bathroom and rest. leads to unfair disciplinary action.

Workplace safety concerns are one of several catalysts for the recent surge in organizing efforts among Amazon employees. In April, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York. voted to form the company’s first union in the United States. Workers at another facility in Staten Island rejected the unionand the second pick at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama. disputed. After these elections, organizational activities began at other Amazon sites in the United States.

Amazon has previously said it supports workers’ right to organize, but doesn’t see unions as the best choice for employees.

Amazon denied that it uses productivity quotas in its warehouses and disputed reports of unsafe working conditions. In April, This was stated by Amazon CEO Andy Jassi. the company’s injury rates are “sometimes” misunderstood, “but he acknowledged that Amazon can do more to improve safety at its facilities.

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