Thursday, January 26, 2023

Feds Cite Amazon’s New Windsor Facility for Dangerous Working Conditions

Amazon’s facility in New Windsor is failing to keep workers safe, the federal government determined in a scathing report.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Amazon for failing to keep workers safe “after finding workers exposed to ergonomic hazards.” OSHA has issued hazardous alert letters following an inspection at the New Windsor facility.

Specifically, OSHA cited Amazon for violating federal mandates for employers to provide safe workplaces. The department’s actions follow referrals from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which led OSHA to open inspections at Amazon’s warehouses in New Windsor on July 18, 2022.

The Amazon facility, which is a distribution center, is located on Hudson Valley Avenue off Route 207 near the Little Britain School.

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

Amazon faces a total of $60,269 in proposed penalties for these violations.

Customer reviews of the New Windsor location indicate the drivers are rushed to complete their tasks.

Customer Marisa Goydich raged, “One of their drivers sped down my driveway and hit my dog!” She stated her mother tried getting the driver’s information, but the driver claimed she did not have a name.

“Should have the delivery driver’s slow down,” another customer named Andrew wrote. “Watched one of them come through the Speedway gas station parking lot on Rt 300 in Newburgh at 30 mph. Back end of van kicked out.”

OSHA’s report coincides with the customers’ complaints that Amazon employees are rushed to perform their jobs.

“Each of these inspections found work processes that were designed for speed but not safety, and they resulted in serious worker injuries,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary Doug Parker. “While Amazon has developed impressive systems to make sure its customers’ orders are shipped efficiently and quickly, the company has failed to show the same level of commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of its workers.”

“Our hope is that the findings of our investigations inspire Amazon and other warehouses to make the safety and health of their workers a core value,” Parker added.

Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of three labor unions, lashed out at Amazon following OSHA’s report. Eric Frumin, the organization’s Health and Safety Director, stated, “Today’s OSHA citations are the latest evidence that Amazon has companywide, corporate-level policies and practices that may create hazardous workplaces, and result in medical mistreatment or denial of treatment for seriously injured workers. Amazon treats its workers from the warehouse to the delivery route as disposable in its relentless drive for profit.”

Frumin continued, “From these citations it appears Amazon not only maintains unsafe workplaces, but then denies proper medical treatment to the workers who are harmed by this inhuman system. The full range of state medical and licensing authorities should take notice and investigate Amazon’s potential violations of state laws meant to ensure injured workers receive proper treatment.”

In December 2022, OSHA cited Amazon for 14 recordkeeping violations as part of the same investigation.  

Amazon has 15 business days from receipt of the current citations and proposed penalty to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before OSHA’s Review Commission.

“Amazon warehouses produce more serious injuries than the rest of the warehouse industry combined,” Frumin noted.

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