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US regulator accuses Amazon of failing to ensure worker safety

Amazon has been accused by federal safety regulators of failing to keep workers safe from workplace hazards at three US facilities, in the latest example of government officials scrutinizing the e-commerce giant’s labor practices.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) said on Wednesday that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Amazon and issued a hazard warning related to risks of injury to workers who carry packages, after inspecting three warehouses: in Deltona, Florida; Waukegan, Illinois; and New Windsor, New York.

“Each of these inspections found work processes designed for speed, but not safety, and resulted in serious injuries to workers,” Doug Park, OSHA assistant secretary of labor, said in a statement Wednesday.

“While Amazon has developed impressive systems to ensure its customers’ orders are shipped efficiently and quickly, the company has not demonstrated the same level of commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of its employees,” added Parker.

The DOL said OSHA investigators found that Amazon warehouse workers are at greater risk for lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders related to the high frequency with which they are required to lift packages, the weight of those items, awkward postures required during lifting, and the long hours required to complete assigned tasks.

The agency said Amazon faces a total of $60,269 in proposed penalties.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company “strongly” disagrees with OSHA’s allegations and intends to appeal.

“We cooperate fully and the government’s claims do not reflect the reality of security at our locations,” Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokeswoman, told CNN in a statement on Wednesday. “Over the last few months, we’ve demonstrated how hard we work every day to mitigate risk and protect our people, and our publicly available data shows that we’ve reduced injury rates by nearly 15% between 2019 and 2021.”

Nantel said the company looks forward to sharing more information during the appeals process “about the numerous safety innovations, process improvements and investments we are making to further reduce injuries.”

The company said it has taken a number of steps to reduce the risk of injury, including introducing stretching groups, reminding workers to take breaks and switching jobs. But Amazon is also known for carefully tracking employee productivity and for working conditions that have been called “exhausting.”

“We have to keep pace,” said Jennifer Bates, an Amazon warehouse worker who helped organize a union campaign at an Alabama facility, testifying before the 2021 Senate Budget Committee. nine-hour day, I train every day. And they track our every move.

A study published last year by a coalition of labor unions found that the 2021 serious injury rate at Amazon warehouses in the US was twice as high as at non-Amazon warehouses.

At the time, Amazon said that it and other companies “have seen an increase in recordable injuries during this 2020-2021 period as we train so many new people” to meet demand at the start of the pandemic.

Source: CNN Brasil

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