The California agency that oversees workplace safety fined Amazon.com Inc. $ 41,000 for failing to record COVID-19 infections among workers at a Rialto facility and to protect generally workers against potential exposure to the virus. This is the second round of fines the state agency has imposed on the e-commerce giant during the pandemic.
After a months-long inspection that began in October, investigators from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal / OSHA, found that an Amazon refill center in Rialto failed. not implemented adequate physical distance, face coverings and physical barriers such as plexiglass screens that would help block infectious particles.
The quote, released Monday, also says Amazon did not record 217 COVID-19 infections contracted by employees from April to October 2020. National occupational health and safety laws require employers to document all occupational illnesses and injuries in a file called Log 300, which is supposed to be available to workers upon request.
Amazon spokeswoman Maria Boschetti said the company was following the regulations, taking the health and safety of its employees seriously and considering challenging the quote. “We believe our health and safety programs are more than sufficient,” Boschetti said in an emailed statement.
Boschetti said Amazon committed $ 11.5 billion last year to COVID-related initiatives to help keep employees safe, including temperature checks, cleanings and testing. The measure includes training that covers “onboarding new hires with constant callbacks, dedicated security ambassadors and … communication on security protocols”.
Cal / OSHA called the breaches of security prevention “serious” breaches. It says Amazon has failed to effectively train employees on COVID-19 safety, including symptoms to watch for, how to report illness, how to disinfect workstations and other equipment, proper use. masks and other prevention methods.
“The employer failed to effectively identify and assess workplace hazards related to COVID-19,” the report said.
Cal / OSHA investigated conditions at the Rialto facility after the Warehouse Worker Resource Center, a workers’ advocacy group, filed a complaint on behalf of employees there in August. The complaint, reviewed by The Times, alleged that Amazon failed to implement adequate physical distancing, training or disinfection practices for shared equipment. He also alleged that company pressure to meet high productivity demands was hampering workers’ ability to properly wear face masks and take other coronavirus safety measures.
Cal / OSHA cited Amazon in October for coronavirus safety violations at a delivery center in Hawthorne and a distribution center in Eastvale after employees called for a state investigation into their working conditions as the coronavirus began to spread among workers last spring. These penalties, of $ 1,870, were much less than the fine of $ 41,000 imposed for deficiencies reported at the Rialto facility.
Responding to the October quote, an Amazon spokesperson said at the time that the company had invested heavily in safety training and that regulators had repeatedly called its safety procedures beyond compliance requirements.
Amazon workers across the country said the company had not implemented appropriate safety precautions to protect itself from COVID infections, nor shared enough information to allow workers to assess their exposure and to protect themselves.
Like other large companies, the company has been in the spotlight for workplace safety and conditions for employees who risk their health at work, while home consumption habits generate record profits for businesses.
Amazon’s failure to record the 217 infections “echoes many of the concerns and questions workers have about the cases,” said Tim Shadix, legal director of the Warehouse Worker Resource Center.
“The workers would ask, ‘How many cases? Which floor? Which department? [The company] refused to provide this information to workers, ”Shadix said. “It is legally questionable, shows a lack of decency and is obviously very bad for the health and safety of workers.”
Shadix said the findings in Monday’s quote were much more comprehensive and better reflected the full scope of the complaints he typically hears from workers. Yet, he said, “Cal / OSHA is working with very limited resources to be able to effectively assess and see all violations.”
Since Cal / OSHA released its first coronavirus-related citation on August 25, it has fined around 200 companies a total of over $ 4 million. The largest state fine to date for workplace safety violations for failing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, at $ 421,880, was turned over to the California Department of Corrections for failing to report deaths and injuries and mitigating the spread of the virus at San Quentin State Prison.