A worker assembles a box for delivery at an Amazon order center in Baltimore, Maryland, USA April 30, 2019.
Claude Kilcoin | Reuters
Federal officials are paying more attention Amazons workplace safety hazards.
Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the Department of Labor, visited Amazon sites near Albany, New York, Denver and Boise, Idaho, on Monday, according to a document viewed by CNBC.
Checks are part of an ongoing investigation launched last month OSHA and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. OSHA officials visited three other Amazon warehouses in New York, Chicago and Orlando in mid-July in response to a referral from SDNY prosecutors.
Last month, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the civilian division was investigating potential workplace safety hazards at Amazon warehouses across the country, as well as possible fraudulent activities aimed at hiding injuries from OSHA and other regulators.
According to the latest document, OSHA inspectors have so far focused on Amazon’s injury and illness records, ergonomics program, and Power Industrial Truck (known as PIT) operations. PIT roles demand employees to operate forklifts or other machinery to reach products on high shelves or move heavy items around the warehouse.
Federal prosecutors ask current and former Amazon employees for information on working conditions via online form. One of the survey questions reads: “Have you seen workers work in an unsafe manner while trying to meet their performance/norm requirements?” Another says, “Do you believe Amazon discourages workers from reporting injuries?”
OSHA and Amazon representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel previously told CNBC in a statement that the company intends to work with OSHA throughout the investigation. “We believe this will ultimately show that these concerns are unfounded,” Nantel said.
Amazon has come under fire for its treatment of warehouse workers and delivery people. Critics and lawmakers have pointed to the company’s obsession with speed and tight quotas as a threat to worker safety. Employees often state that they face disciplinary action and termination if they fail to meet performance standards.
Amazon denied that it uses such quotas in its warehouses, and also disputed reports of unsafe working conditions.
OSHA investigators have repeatedly checked Amazon warehouses. about working conditionsincluding tragic warehouse collapse as well as health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus. When an OSHA violation is found, it usually results in fines that are minuscule compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars Amazon withholds each year.