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Op/Ed

Amazon faces 14 OSHA violations and a $29k fine

Amazon loses some spare change to record-keeping whoopsies. Here’s what it means to businesses evaluated much much much lower.

Amazon warehouse

I went to an Amazon warehouse in California for work once. The experience was surreal.

The shuttle in took us past amazing, snow-peaked mountains dyed pink in the rising sun on one side. On the other side, an extensive tent encampment was left in the chilly shade for at least the next hour. The combo of majestic natural beauty and the horrors of a cruel manmade system made walking into the volume of stuff in so much space a jarring, nauseating affair.

Most of the picker workers were cleared out for the tour, either their hours were cut, or they were shunted off to some other portion of the facilities. I’m not sure. We saw the boxes auto taped, and rolled, we walked past happy platitude posters. The highest paid people in our party took video, even though they were told not to, but the clearing out of the area made for fairly innocuous footage.

I’m pretty sure they tell people not to film all the nothing just to make sure they feel as though they’re getting away with something when they do.

Imagining the whole section on a normal day, full of people up and down, picking and scanning, and the sprint a timed bathroom break would take was a heavy toll. Having been an order picker for a non-Amazon space mentally wrecked me with just one product category. The belly of this behemoth in comparison was positively eldritch in comparison.

It’d be easy to think ‘How could anyone keep track of anyone in such a vast, full space? All the moving parts, all the personnel, how could something not slip through the cracks?”

That easy thinking is what’s going to suck you into being some rich b-hole’s pawn.

It’s Amazon. $939.78 billion market cap. Literally trillions of dollars in sales. A. Ma. Zon. When I say this company can afford to have every facility lined with massage chairs, a bathroom on every row of items with a crystal chandelier in each one, it’s not an exageration.

So when they continue to fail their employees, even through blood and broken bones, dear reader, it is absolutely preventable, and the lack of prevention despite a maddening amount of resources can only be called evil. A failure in recording what does happen because of this morality dearth is similarly perfidious.

They’re being fined a scant $29k for violating OSHA procedure in reporting ill and injured workers.

The chumpest of change to satisfy a government agency, in a society that refuses to punish wealthy people and moneyed corporations in ways that actually leave a mark. Flat fees are

garbage—as a wise person once said right before their name was lost to the Internet meme machine: “Punishable by fine means it’s legal for rich people.”

I have one question about all this, and I can climb off my soapbox for this one. Can you shrug off $29k in fines if you’re sloppy about hurt employees? If OSHA were tipped off about your facilities, would all the shortcuts be worth it?

Even if you don’t want to do right for right’s sake…you might not be big enough to pooh pooh the consequences. And as strikes, informed workers, and walkouts rise, stepping up safety and relative comfort (a toilet properly bolted to the ground is a need for so-called cushy office gigs and hardcore cement floor pounding work alike) is literally the least you should do.

That and buying local. Please.

You can't spell "Together" without TGOT: That Goth Over There. Staff Writer, April Bingham, is that goth; and she's all about building bridges— both metaphorically between artistry and entrepreneurship, and literally with tools she probably shouldn't be allowed to learn how to use.

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