Amazon has been charged with “ergonomic or equipment hazards” affecting workers in some warehouses. The company said it would appeal the citation it was given by The Labor Department, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office is asking for more documents about how workers are treated. Amazon has challenged that as well. Two years ago, Reveal got documents from The Center for Investigative Reporting. These, according to Reveal, “show that company officials have profoundly misled the public and lawmakers about its record on worker safety.”
Is Amazon lax about the safety of its workers? Are these reports and charges fair? There is no way to tell for sure. A few cases do not make a pattern. Amazon is too large to track the activity of everyone who works in its delivery systems. Governments don’t have enough people to track the accuracy of accusations.
One open question is whether Amazon’s actions are like those of those companies. OSHA received 19,634 workplace safety complaints last November. It said states received another 64,618. Amazon’s problem may be that it is the second-largest employer in America. As such, it is more likely to receive complaints than smaller companies. And Amazon’s problems are more likely to be reported in the press.
There is a certain amount of fog around safety violation reports at the state and federal levels. It is impossible to examine 90,000 reports. That means that no one will know the full extent of whether violations have happened or not. The extent of Amazon’s worker safety record is unknowable, which means the best the government can do is to review it in small pieces. (These are the deadliest jobs in America.)
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