Amazon and the US Government: Doing Just Fine, Thanks

December 26, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

OSHA was established to protect workers from unsafe conditions. Big technology barons like Jeff Bezos with Amazon don’t give rat’s hind quarters about employee safety. They might project an image of caring and kindness but that’s from Amazon’s PR department. Amazon is charged with innumerable workplace violations, including micromanaging yawning to poor compensation. The Washington Posts details one of Amazon’s latest scandals, “A 20-Year-Old Amazon Employee Died At Work. Indiana Issued A $7000 Fine.”

Twenty-year old Caes Gruesbeck was clearing a blockage on an overhead conveyor belt at the Amazon distribution center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He needed to use an elevated lift to reach the blockage. His head collided with the conveyor and became trapped. Gruesbeck later died from blunt force trauma.

Indiana safety officials investigated for eleven weeks and found that Amazon failed to ensure a safe work environment. Amazon was only cited and fined $7000. Amazon employees continue to be injured and the country’s second largest private employer is constantly scrutinized, but state and federal safety regulators are failing to enforce policies. They are failing because Amazon is a powerful corporation with a hefty legal department.

“‘Seven thousand dollars for the death of a 20-year-old? What’s that going to do to Amazon?’ said Stephen Wagner, an Indiana attorney who has advocated for more worker-friendly laws in the state. ‘There’s no real financial incentive for an employer like Amazon to change their working environment to make it more safe.’”

Federal and state governments are trying to make Amazon take responsibility through the current system but it’s slow. Safety regulators can’t inspect every Amazon complaint and building. They are instead working towards a sweeping company approach like the Family Dollar and Dollar Tree investigations about blocked fire exits. It took six years, resulting in $15 million in fines and a $1.35 million settlement.

Once companies are hit with large fines it changes how they do business. Amazon probably will be brought to justice but it will take a long time.

Whitney Grace, December 26, 2023


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