Amazon cited for unsafe work practices at Kent fulfillment center
TUMWATER — Amazon is facing a willful serious violation and a $60,000 fine for knowingly putting workers at risk of injury at its fulfillment center in Kent
A Washington state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) inspection at the e-commerce company found 10 of the 12 processes L&I evaluated create a serious hazard for work-related back, shoulder, wrist, and knee injuries.
Increased injury potential due to strenuous work at an unsafe pace
L&I ergonomists found that many Amazon jobs involve repetitive motions, lifting, carrying, twisting, and other physical work. Workers are required to perform these tasks at such a fast pace that it increases the risk of injury.
Written abatement plan due within 60 days
The citation requires Amazon to submit a written plan to L&I within 60 days, detailing methods the company will use to abate the safety issues. L&I provided numerous options Amazon can consider to reduce the risk of injuries. Some examples include installing height adjustable platforms to reduce awkward lifting, using powered equipment to move heavy pallets, and setting a safe pace of work for each process.
Similar violations at other locations
Because L&I has cited Amazon for similar violations at three Washington locations, the company is aware of these hazards. Therefore, the most recent violation is classified as a willful violation and comes with a significantly higher penalty than those issued as a result of earlier inspections. The company has not yet made necessary changes to improve workplace safety and has consistently denied the association between pace of work and injury rates.
Amazon has 15 working days to appeal the latest citation and fine. The company has active appeals in the three previous cases.
Fines paid as a result of a citation go into the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.