A worker takes a momentary rest at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
Earlier this year, a falling object struck a worker’s head at an Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The worker visited Amcare, the company’s on-site medical unit, and told the emergency medical technicians on staff there that they had a headache and blurred vision — classic symptoms of a concussion. According to company protocol, Amazon’s medical staff should have sent the worker to a hospital or doctor’s office for further evaluation, or at least called a physician for advice. They did neither.
This was one of six instances at the Robbinsville fulfillment center between February and May in which staff at the Amcare clinic failed to provide adequate medical care to injured employees, according to a warning letter issued in August by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency responsible for workplace safety. In another incident, a worker came to the clinic with a possibly fractured finger, but Amcare medical staff failed to send them to an outside clinic for a professional opinion. A worker with an eye injury repeatedly asked to be sent to the hospital, but Amcare staff denied the requests. The next week, another worker came to the clinic four days in a row complaining of intense finger pain. According to company protocol, the clinic should have been checking on the employee every two hours. Instead, Amcare evaluated them once per day for three days without recommending outside care.
In various instances, OSHA investigators found that Amcare medical staff decided to treat the employees in-house, rather than referring them to doctors or hospitals — decisions that potentially violated New Jersey state law and federal regulations, such as OSHA’s “general duty” clause requiring employers to maintain workplaces free of hazards that put workers in danger.
This wasn’t the first time OSHA had investigated Amcare, nor was it the first time the agency alerted Amazon to problems at the clinics. “The current OSHA inspection again revealed instances indicating that the EMTs and Athletic Trainers (ATs) at AMCARE are working outside their scope of practice, without proper supervision,” regulators wrote in a warning letter to Amazon, reported here for the first time. “New Jersey state laws do not allow EMTs and ATs to practice medicine independently; a physician must supervise their work.”