California OSHA fines Amazon for coronavirus safety breaches

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Two Amazon warehouses in California have been cited by the state’s division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for coronavirus-related health and safety violations.Cal / OSHA fined an Amazon distribution center in Eastvale, Calif. Known as LGB3, and a delivery station in Hawthorne, Calif. Called DLA8, $ 1,870 for failing to mitigate the potential exposure to the coronavirus by ensuring adequate health and safety. training.

“Employees were unaware of key elements of the training material, including, but not limited to, workstation sanitation and frequently touched items in the workplace,” according to published quotes. on October 6 and first reported by the Los Angeles Times. .

Since the coronavirus hit U.S. shores in March, warehouse workers, labor groups and politicians have expressed concerns that Amazon has not done enough to protect its employees from the virus. Amazon said it spent around $ 4 billion on coronavirus-related initiatives, including the development of testing capabilities, safety equipment, salary increases and training.

Amazon told CNBC in a statement that it plans to appeal the citations.

“We have great respect for OSHA, but we believe our training programs are more than enough and we plan to challenge it,” the company said. “We have invested heavily in training people to stay safe and healthy, from our onboarding for new hires to constant callbacks, dedicated safety ambassadors, ongoing training and communication on safety protocols. , every day, through a variety of means.

Amazon said national health and safety regulatory agencies had inspected more than 100 of its facilities since March and said its processes “go beyond compliance requirements.”

Cal / OSHA began investigating conditions at LGB3 in late April and DLA8 in early May after the Warehouse Worker Resource Center workers’ advocacy group filed complaints on behalf of facility workers.

In the complaints, which were obtained by CNBC, the WWRC raised concerns about the lack of coronavirus safety measures at LGB3 and DLA8, including failure to close sections of the warehouse that would have visited by infected employees, inadequate sanitation practices and training, as well as not giving workers sufficient time to wash or disinfect their hands.

At DLA8 in Hawthorne, the WWRC said communication from Amazon was so poor that workers learned that an employee had died from Covid-19 from the media. Contracted delivery drivers have not received any notifications of confirmed cases at Amazon facilities, according to the complaint.

“This withholding of information goes far beyond what is necessary to protect the privacy and identity of sick employees,” the complaint said.

The quote comes after Amazon revealed last week that 19,816 frontline workers contracted Covid-19 between March 1 and September 19. The company said the infection rate among employees was 42% lower than expected, compared to the general population rate in the United States.

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