So far, OSHA inspectors have focused on how Amazon keeps track of injuries and illnesses and how its ergonomics programme works, among other things.
Federal officials are paying more attention to the safety risks at Amazon.
Investigators from the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration went to Amazon sites near Albany, New York, Denver, Colorado, and Boise, Idaho, on Monday, according to a document that CNBC saw.
The inspections are part of an investigation that OSHA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York started last month and is still going on. In the middle of July, OSHA officials went to three other Amazon warehouses in New York, Chicago, and Orlando after SDNY prosecutors sent them there.
Last month, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that the civil division is looking into possible safety hazards at Amazon warehouses all over the country, as well as possible fraud to hide injuries from OSHA and other regulators.
So far, OSHA inspectors have focused on how Amazon keeps track of injuries and illnesses, its ergonomics programme, and how it runs its Power Industrial Trucks, or PITs. In PIT jobs, people have to drive forklifts or other machines to reach products on high shelves or move heavy items around the warehouse.
Federal prosecutors asked current and former Amazon workers to fill out an online form with information about how they worked. “Have you seen workers working in unsafe ways to try to meet their productivity/rate requirements?” is one of the questions on the survey. Someone else asks, “Do you think Amazon makes it hard for workers to report injuries?”
A spokesperson for the Department of Labor said that investigations were opened at Amazon warehouses in Colorado, Idaho, and New York. The spokesperson said that the investigations are happening because of claims of safety and health violations at “several Amazon facilities,” but he or she would not say more because the probes are still going on.
When Amazon was asked for a comment, they didn’t give one right away.
Kelly Nantel, a spokesperson for Amazon, told CNBC in a statement that the company plans to help OSHA with its investigation. “We think it will show in the end that these worries aren’t true,” Nantel said.
Amazon has been criticised many times for how it treats its warehouse and delivery staff. Critics and lawmakers have said that the company’s focus on speed and its strict quotas put workers’ safety at risk. Employees often say that if they don’t meet their productivity goals, they could get in trouble or even be fired.
Amazon has said that it doesn’t use these kinds of quotas in its warehouses and has disputed claims that workers are in danger.
Investigators from OSHA have been to Amazon warehouses many times to check on working conditions, including a tragic warehouse collapse and health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus. When an OSHA violation is found, Amazon is usually fined a small amount compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars it makes every year.