Washington OSHA cracks down on Amazon
Sunday, March 20, marked the 22nd anniversary of one of the greatest crimes in American labor history: President George W. Bush's signing of Senate Joint Resolution 6 which repealed OSHA's ergonomics standard that had been issued just 4 months earlier. Two and a half years later, Washington state voters, succumbing to lies and job blackmail from the state's business community, voted to repeal the state's ergonomics standard.
Ergonomics regulations may have gone away, but neither the hazards nor the musculoskeletal injuries hundreds of thousands of workers suffer every year disappeared: not nationally, not in Washington and not at Amazon.
Two days after that anniversary, on March 22, 2022 Washington State OSHA announced a $60,000 citation for multiple “Willful Serious” ergonomics violations, filed under Washington OSHA's general duty clause, at Amazon's warehouse and fulfillment center in Kent, Washington. According to a Press Release from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries' (L&I), which houses Washington OSHA, the Amazon Kent inspection "found 10 of the 12 processes L&I evaluated create a serious hazard for work-related back, shoulder, wrist, and knee injuries.... L&I ergonomists found that many Amazon jobs involve repetitive motions, lifting, carrying, twisting, and other physical work. Workers are required to perform these tasks at such a fast pace that it increases the risk of injury."
But the most impactful violation did not just address the specific hazards (such as repetitive motions and carrying). The citations states that "There is a direct connection between Amazon's employee monitoring and discipline systems and workplace musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)."
Read more: Confined Space Blog.