Dec 16 (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc ( AMZN.O ) failed to properly record work-related injuries and illnesses at six warehouses in five states, the U.S. Labor Department said on Friday as part of an ongoing investigation for company security policies.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), part of the Department of Labor, said it had cited Amazon for 14 separate recordkeeping violations, and the company faces $29,000 in fines.
OSHA fines generally cannot exceed approximately $14,500 per violation and are often much lower for recordkeeping violations.
The reports involve warehouses in Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois and two facilities in New York. OSHA said it is still investigating alleged safety violations at the warehouses.
Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in a statement that employee safety is a top priority, and the company invests hundreds of millions of dollars each year to ensure a strong safety program.
“While we recognize there may have been minor administrative errors over the years, we were confident in the numbers we reported to the government,” Nantel said.
Amazon has 15 days to pay the fines or challenge them before a federal review board.
Doug Parker, head of OSHA, said in a statement that accurate record keeping is critical to addressing health and safety issues in the workplace.
“Our concern is that nothing will be done to prevent an injury from recurring if it is not even logged, which – in a company the size of Amazon – could have significant consequences for a large number of workers,” Parker said.
Amazon’s critics have long said the company puts profit before safety by requiring employees to work at an unsafe pace and forgo breaks to meet demanding quotas.
The company’s safety record has come under renewed scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic and after a warehouse in Illinois collapsed during a tornado last year, killing six workers. OSHA declined to fine Amazon in this case.
Those concerns helped fuel union campaigns in warehouses across the country, including at the New York facility, where workers voted to unionize in March.
OSHA said Friday that Amazon failed to keep proper records at a warehouse near Albany, New York, where workers in October voted against unionization.
The Washington state labor department fined Amazon $60,000 in March for violating workplace safety laws by requiring warehouse workers to perform repetitive motions at a fast pace, increasing their risk of injury.
Amazon disputes those findings and filed a lawsuit in October arguing that the department can’t force the company to address the alleged safety risks while its appeal is pending.
Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Howard Goller
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