Department of Labor Says Amazon Failed to 'Keep Workers Safe,' Proposes Fine

The U.S. Department of Labor plans to fine Amazon over $60,000 after OSHA investigations reported unsafe working conditions.
amazon logo on warehouse
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The U.S. Department of Labor plans to fine Amazon over $60,000 for safety violations regarding warehouse workers, according to an announcement on Wednesday. Departmental investigators cited the company for “failing to keep workers safe,” which it said was a violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The Department’s Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) inspected three warehouse facilities in Florida, Illinois, and New York, and issued hazard alert letters after finding that workers were “exposed to ergonomic hazards,” according to the press release. 


The Department proposed a penalty of $60,269 for the violations. 

“OSHA investigators found Amazon warehouse workers at high risk for lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders related to the high frequency with which workers are required to lift packages and other items; the heavy weight of the items; awkward postures, such as twisting, bending and long reaches while lifting; and long hours required to complete assigned tasks,” the OSHA press release reads. 

“OSHA also reviewed on-site injury logs required by OSHA and discovered that Amazon warehouse workers experienced high rates of musculoskeletal disorders.” 

OSHA has previously cited Amazon for 14 instances of failing to properly record or report worker injuries in December 2022.

Worker safety is a known issue at Amazon. Both warehouse workers and drivers previously told Motherboard they have been subjected to long, grueling hours. Warehouse workers said that during peak season—the busiest time of the year for the company, spanning from mid-November to the end of December—they worked up to 60-hour weeks and close to 12-hour shifts. Drivers have faced dog attacks on the job and are so short on time that they often can’t pull over and use the bathroom

Amazon is aware that working at its warehouses can take a toll on workers' bodies, and has launched numerous workplace initiatives that have, for example, framed workers as “industrial athletes” and advised them on everything from stretches to nutrition.

Worker safety concerns led to the organizing behind the Amazon Labor Union, which just last week was certified by the National Labor Relations Board, and has yet to begin bargaining with the company. 

Amazon has 15 business days to either pay the fine or contest OSHA’s findings. 

“We take the safety and health of our employees very seriously, and we strongly disagree with these allegations and intend to appeal,” said Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson. “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.” 

“What’s more, the vast majority of our employees tell us they feel our workplace is safe,” Nantel continued. “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.”