The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Amazon for fourteen violations and proposed fines totaling $29,008 despite the fact it identified no hazards leading to potential injuries. The alleged violations, classified as “other-than-serious,” were found to have occurred at various Amazon facilities across the U.S. and all involved failing to properly record workplace injuries.
According to the citations, Amazon failed to record or properly record workplace injuries on their OSHA 300 or 301 logs. Large employers like Amazon must record information in such logs related to workplace injuries and illnesses that require medical attention greater than first aid or result in the absence of the employee from their regular position (including employees placed on light duty) within seven days of the injury or illness. Employers may be required to submit the logs annually to OSHA, who in turn uses the data to initiate target inspections of employers with large numbers of injuries.
OSHA alleges that Amazon failed to properly record the specifics of some injuries, such as the duration of an employee’s absence, or failed to record injuries within the required seven days. In one example, OSHA alleges that Amazon listed an employee as being temporarily reassigned for 53 days due to medical restrictions, when the reassignment actually lasted 84 days. OSHA Assistant Secretary Doug Parker stated, “Our concern is that nothing will be done to keep an injury from recurring if it isn’t even recorded in the logbook which – in a company the size of Amazon – could have significant consequences for a large number of workers.”
OSHA regulations require all employers with eleven or more employees to record and post their workplace injuries and illnesses, unless they fall within a “low hazard” industry exempting them from the requirement. OSHA maintains a list of low hazard industries that is updated periodically. Large employers with 250 or more employees, like Amazon, and employers with 20 to 249 employees in certain high-risk industries identified by OSHA, are required to submit logs annually. Employers who are not required to submit logs annually, but also not exempt from the record keeping requirement, must submit maintained logs to OSHA within four hours of a request.
It can be easy for an employer to overlook OSHA’s recording requirements, particularly when an employer does not have someone dedicated specifically to workplace safety. Often, employers simply forget to record an injury timely as they deal with the injury itself or are unaware of the requirement altogether. OSHA’s citation of Amazon demonstrates the agency will pursue these violations even when there is no underlying hazard to health or safety. Accordingly, when a workplace injury occurs, it is imperative to quickly consult with a qualified attorney who is experienced in OSHA safety procedures to ensure that all legal obligations are satisfied.
The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.