Feds Investigating Amazon for Warehouse Safety

Amazon fulfillment center feature

Federal prosecutors in New York and officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating working conditions at Amazon warehouses around the country, according to various media reports, beginning in New York, Orlando and Chicago.

At the same time, an Amazon worker died at a facility in New Jersey on July 12 during Prime Day, which OSHA is also investigating.

The OSHA inspections arose from referrals issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which is also investigating Amazon for possible civil violations related to the issue, according to CNBC.

“The Civil Division of the SDNY is investigating potential worker safety hazards at Amazon warehouses across the country, as well as possible fraudulent conduct designed to hide injuries from OSHA and others,” SDNY spokesman Nicholas Biase said in a statement to CNBC.

The SDNY is soliciting input from current and former Amazon workers via an online form, asking specifically about workplace hazards and the pace of work and “whether Amazon appropriately reported on-the-job injuries.”

Amazon’s alleged efforts to shield safety issues from OSHA is an area of focus of the SDNY investigation, Biase said. Also, the pace of work and performance quotas, and their impact on worker safety, have led to inquiries from legislators in New York and California.

The twofold investigation comes as reports of issues with health and safety and working conditions inside Amazon’s hundreds of U.S. facilities, from current and former employees, have grown in recent years. The company has said consistently it is doing all it can to keep workers safe.

“We’ll of course cooperate with OSHA in their investigation, and we believe it will ultimately show that these concerns are unfounded,” Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel told CNBC in a statement.

Working conditions inside Amazon facilities have also been among the grievances cited by labor unions, which have redoubled efforts to organize nationwide after an initial victory this year in Staten Island, NY, which is now under appeal and review. Aggressive new Teamsters Union president Sean O’Brien has also made organizing Amazon drivers and warehouse workers a top priority.