© Reuters. The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, northern France, February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo
By Daniel Wiessner
(Reuters) -Amazon.com Inc failed to properly record work-related injuries and illnesses at six warehouses in five states, the U.S. Department of Labor said on Friday as part of an ongoing investigation into the company’s safety policies.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a part of the Labor Department, said it had cited Amazon (NASDAQ:) for 14 separate recordkeeping violations, and the company faces $29,000 in fines.
OSHA fines generally cannot exceed about $14,500 per violation, and are often much lower for recordkeeping violations.
The citations involve warehouses in Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois and two facilities in New York. OSHA said it was still investigating alleged safety violations at the warehouses.
Amazon in a statement said the citations involve clerical errors and were not an indication of a systemic recordkeeping problem. OSHA classified the violations as “other than serious,” the agency’s lowest-level citation, the company said.
Kelly Nantel, a spokesperson for Amazon, said that worker safety is a top priority and the company invests hundreds of millions of dollars each year to ensure a robust safety program.
“While we acknowledge there may have been small administrative errors over the years, we’ve been confident in the numbers we’ve reported to the government,” Nantel said in a statement.
Amazon has 15 days to pay the fines or contest them before a federal review board.
Doug Parker, the head of OSHA, said in a statement that accurate recordkeeping is crucial to addressing workplace health and safety issues.
“Our concern is that nothing will be done to keep an injury from recurring if it isn’t even recorded in the logbook which – in a company the size of Amazon – could have significant consequences for a large number of workers,” Parker said.
Critics of Amazon have long said that the company puts profit over safety by requiring employees to work at an unsafe pace and forgo breaks to meet demanding quotas.
The company’s safety record came under renewed scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic and after an Illinois warehouse collapsed during a tornado last year, killing six workers. OSHA declined to fine Amazon in that case.
Those concerns helped spur union campaigns at warehouses across the country, including at a New York City facility where workers voted to unionize in March.
OSHA said on Friday that Amazon had failed to keep proper records at a warehouse near Albany, New York, where workers in October voted against joining a union.
Washington state’s labor department in March fined Amazon $60,000 for violating workplace safety laws by requiring warehouse employees to perform repetitive motions at a fast pace, increasing their risk of injury.
Amazon is contesting those findings, and in October filed a lawsuit claiming the department cannot force the company to address the alleged safety hazards while its appeal is pending.