Amazon Trial on Warehouse Worker Safety Has Begun in Washington

Amazon Trial on Warehouse Worker Safety Has Begun in Washington

The trial follows two years of investigation by state OSHA officials.

A trial involving Amazon and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) began on Monday, July 24.

Amazon faces allegations it presents its warehouse workers with a hazardous work environment, which has resulted in injury due to repetitive motions. The company’s anticipated pace of work and other alleged hazards were an early focus of the trial. Experts in workplace safety, ergonomics and occupational medicine were in line to testify to that effect.

Responding to complaints from workers in Amazon warehouses, Washington OSHA officials launched an investigation into the company in 2020, resulting in citations in 2021 and 2022 for workload hazards. Amazon appealed these citations, claiming it had taken efforts to remediate potential worker injury. Now the company wants these citations dismissed.

“We look forward to showing that L&I’s allegations are inaccurate and don’t reflect the reality of safety at Amazon,” said Maureen Lynch Vogel, spokesperson for Amazon, said in a statement. “The truth is that we’re always investing in safety and our efforts are working, with recordable injury rates at our sites in Kent and DuPont improving by 16 percent and 40 percent since 2018. We’re proud of our progress and we’ll continue working to get better every day.”

For its part, L&I proposes Amazon makes necessary changes to ensure the health and safety of its workers. Suggested improvements, according to The Seattle Times, included the introduction of new equipment and updated scheduling allowing ample breaks for workers with physically intensive roles at the company’s warehouses.

The trial is expected to continue for roughly six weeks.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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