L&I fines the Spokane Amazon fulfillment center

L&I fines the Spokane Amazon fulfillment center for “knowingly putting workers at risk of injury.”

The fulfillment center located in Spokane employs a workforce of 2,400 individuals, and it has witnessed over 400 workers’ compensation claims related to Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Amazon fulfillment center situated near Spokane International Airport has been fined $85,000 by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. The fine was imposed for “knowingly putting workers at risk of injury at its fulfillment center in Spokane.”

The fulfillment center in Spokane employs a workforce of 2,400 individuals, and there have been over 400 workers’ compensation claims related to Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders. Notably, this fulfillment center holds the highest injury rates among all Amazon fulfillment centers in the state.

As per the CDC, Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders encompass injuries or disorders affecting muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. These conditions are characterized by significant contributions from the work environment and job performance, exacerbating the condition or prolonging its duration.

Following an inspection by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), it was revealed that Amazon’s fulfillment center mandates workers to carry out repetitive motions, lifting, and other physically demanding tasks at an accelerated pace. This operational approach places employees at a heightened risk of developing Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders.

In addition to ergonomic concerns, the facility near the airport received citations for noise levels exceeding permissible limits when workers aren’t wearing proper hearing protection. These citations include three serious violations and one general violation.

Notably, due to the fact that Amazon has faced similar violations in three other Washington locations, the company was already aware of the potential hazards. Consequently, the most recent violation is categorized as willful and carries a more substantial penalty.

Craig Blackwood, the assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, remarked, “Perhaps more than any other company, Amazon has the means and the know-how to invest in solutions that keep their workers safe.”

Amazon retains the right to appeal the citation within a 15-day window and currently has active appeals in the three previous Washington cases. Fines paid as a result of citations are channeled into the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, offering support to workers and families affected by on-the-job fatalities.

L&I fines the Spokane Amazon fulfillment center
Amazon’s fulfillment center in Spokane, Wash.

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Amazon provided the following response to KREM regarding the citation:

“We strongly disagree with the allegations, particularly the characterization of ‘willful’. Once again, L&I is basing these allegations on previous citations that we are actively contesting in court. This assertion that we knowingly exposed employees to ergonomic risks is entirely unfounded. We eagerly anticipate a thorough and equitable review of the citations we have challenged, as the truth is that we are making tangible strides. Our recordable incident rates in the U.S. have improved by 23% since 2019. Our unwavering commitment remains the health and safety of our entire workforce.”

Read the full citation Click Here

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Amazon achieved its quickest delivery speeds ever in major cities during the second quarter after implementing operational changes to position more products closer to customers, all while enhancing overall worker safety, as stated by the company.

The L&I investigation conducted at the Spokane facility, situated near the Spokane International Airport, revealed that Amazon mandates workers to perform repetitive tasks, lifting, and other physically demanding activities at an accelerated pace, posing a risk of developing Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders, as reported by the agency.

In addition to the ergonomic violations, L&I cited Amazon for surpassing permissible noise thresholds when employees were not utilizing ear protection. Amazon expressed disagreement with L&I’s depiction of the noise hazards.

“Perhaps more than any other company, Amazon has the resources and expertise to invest in solutions that ensure the safety of their employees,” stated Craig Blackwood, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

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