Whether you work for a huge company like Amazon or a local grocery store chain, employers are responsible for providing safe working conditions, including keeping the facility maintained and providing employees with personal protection equipment (PPE) when appropriate. When they fail to do so, it increases the risks of workplace injuries, worker’s compensation claims, and potential personal injury lawsuits.
What did OSHA uncover at Amazon’s warehouses?
On July 18, 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opened inspections in three of Amazon’s warehouses in Deltona, FL, New Windsor, NY, and Waukegan, IL. Then on August 1, 2022, OSHA added warehouse locations in Castleton, NY, Aurora, CO, and Nampa, ID.
On December 16, 2022, OSHA announced that Amazon would face $29,008 in fines for failing to file workplace injuries and illnesses and to record them. Part of the issue with Amazon’s injury reporting is that it was underreporting or listing a less serious injury than the actual injury. The fines are meant to discourage Amazon from continuing to do the same in the future.
In another investigation into three of the warehouses, OSHA discovered that Amazon was not providing sufficient workplace safety. On January 18, 2023, OSHA announced several ergonomic hazards at each of these warehouses, resulting in another fine of $60,269.
Two weeks later, on February 1, 2023, OHSA announced another $46,875 in fines for unsafe working conditions, similar to the previous three warehouses it investigated. The fines were issued for the warehouses in Aurora, Nampa, and Castleton.
Part of the fine was issued due to Amazon’s handling of workplace injuries. Amazon has onsite clinics and requires injured workers to visit the Amcare clinic first. However, OSHA uncovered workers were receiving insufficient care for their injuries. In some cases, workers had to keep visiting the clinic for up to three weeks before getting a referral to a doctor.
What was Amazon’s response to OSHA’s declared safety violations?
After Amazon receives a notice from OSHA for safety violations, they have 15 days to file a response, which could be one of the following:
- Deny the allegations
- Request a meeting with OSHA’s area director
- Pay the proposed fines
Amazon can also reduce the amount of the fines it has to pay by addressing specific workplace safety issues and taking steps to improve workplace safety.
According to Amazon spokesperson Kelly Natal, the company disagrees with OSHA’s findings. She goes on to say, “We take the safety and health of our employees very seriously…and we’ve reduced injury rates nearly 15% between 2019 and 2021.” As such, Amazon denies the allegations at all of its warehouses.
Can I sue Amazon for my work injury or for unsafe working conditions?
It may be possible to sue Amazon for work-related injuries or unsafe working conditions, depending on the circumstances. If you believe your injury or the working conditions resulted from Amazon’s negligence, you may be able to bring a claim against the company.
However, it is important to note that each state has its own laws governing such claims. It is essential to consult with an experienced lawyer to determine your options and whether you can sue Amazon in your state.
In Colorado, an injured employee can bring a claim for damages against their employer if the injury results from the employer’s negligence. This means that the employer must have acted in a negligent manner, such as by failing to provide a safe working environment or adequate safety training.
An experienced Aurora employment law attorney can help determine if you have a valid worker’s compensation claim, whether you can sue Amazon, and the best way to proceed.
What should I do if I get injured in the workplace?
Colorado’s Workers Compensation Act Article 42 and Article 43 detail the exact employment law procedures for employers and employees to follow. In general, as an employee, you should do the following:
- When injured in the workplace, the first thing you need to do is seek medical care. Doing so makes your employer aware of your injuries. It also helps ensure your right to seek worker’s compensation benefits.
- Report the injury to your employer. They will need to fill out an accident and injury report for you to be able to claim worker’s compensation. You need to verify the report is written, as worker’s compensation does not accept verbal reports.
- You should attempt to document the accident and injuries. For instance, you should take pictures of your injuries and the working conditions where the accident occurred, and list the names of any of your co-workers who could be potential witnesses.
- Make a note of any safety hazards in the location where the accident occurred.
- Lastly, you should consult with an experienced Aurora worker’s compensation attorney to discuss your legal options, obtain assistance in filing your worker’s compensation claim, and to determine if you can bring additional legal actions against your employer.
In addition, you should never admit you were at fault to your employer, even when you could be considered partially or fully at fault. Only stick to the facts of what occurred and how you were injured.
How can a good worker’s compensation lawyer help my case?
A good worker’s compensation lawyer can help you in many ways, including:
- Representing you in court to help ensure you receive the full amount of compensation you are entitled to for your injuries.
- Helping you understand the details of the worker’s compensation system, including all the necessary paperwork.
- Identifying any violations of safety regulations that may have contributed to your injury.
- Negotiating with your employer to reach a settlement agreement.
- Investigating the circumstances of your injury to determine if any third parties may be liable for your damages.
- Ensuring you receive all the necessary medical treatments to help you recover from your injury.
What if my employer denies or refuses to file my worker’s compensation claim?
If your employer notifies you that your claim is denied or they refuse to file your worker’s compensation claim, you have the right to file a claim yourself with your state’s worker’s compensation board. However, due to the complexities of worker’s compensation laws, contacting an experienced Aurora employment law attorney from Bachus & Schanker is highly recommended.
Our Aurora worker’s compensation attorneys can help you understand your rights and assist you in filing the claim. Furthermore, when you are entitled to additional compensation for your workplace injuries, our attorneys will negotiate a settlement with your employer before filing a workplace lawsuit.
Palmer, A. (2023). Amazon Cited by Labor Department for Second Time in a Month Over Warehouse Injuries. Silberling, A. (2023). Amazon Fined by Regulators for Unsafe Warehouse Work Conditions.