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Amazon warehouse safety practices under investigation by OSHA

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Yahoo Finance’s Dan Howley joins the Live show to discuss OSHA’s investigation into Amazon for warehouse safety concerns.

Video Transcript

BRAD SMITH: Amazon is in the hot seat today after the Department of Labor launched an investigation into warehouses in three states over safety concerns. Joining us now to unpack this investigation, we've got Yahoo Finance's tech DH, the designated hitter himself, Dan Howley. All right, so Dan, just break this down for us. So what now is Amazon facing on this front?

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, this is an investigation by OSHA, really a probe into OSHA-- from OSHA into Amazon about their warehouse practices. We've heard about Amazon and having issues with workers in warehouses for some time, whether or not that comes down to the kind of way that they're forced to work long hours while standing, repetitive stress injuries from different types of movements, issues where they're standing on platforms that hurt their knees over time or even your back.

I mean, look, you're bent over a conveyor belt, trying to pack a bunch of things into boxes and get them out on time. You're timed for things like this. There's been discussions, obviously, on bathroom breaks and whether or not they're allowed to take them or if they can take them in time to get back in time for them to ensure that they haven't set off any alarms that they're missing.

So this is really a broader issue that we've seen at Amazon. And look, it's not just something that's made up. This is a real issue. That's part of the reason why we've seen a push to unionize at some of these Amazon warehouses. Obviously, we had the one win for unions in Staten Island. There was a second Staten Island warehouse, though, that pushed back against unionizing, and then, obviously, that Bessemer, Alabama plant that they're still up in the air on whether or not they'll unionize.

But this is something that's been ongoing for some time. We talk about drivers who are also very harried and trying to ensure that they deliver on time within a certain window, people that are basically just using water bottles to go to the bathroom. And then I mean, we've all seen them, right? You walk down the street sometimes, and you just see a couple of water bottles. Those are coming from delivery trucks or some weird person in your neighborhood, but most likely a delivery truck.

So, you know, I think it's important to point out this is a broader issue that Amazon has had. And Andy Jassy has said that they want to improve worker conditions and make it one of the best places to work. But you have an investigation or probe, rather, again, from OSHA and it doesn't look good.

JULIE HYMAN: At the same time that Amazon is sort of the subject of these legal probes, it's not the only legal situation Amazon is in right now. But now-- but it's the-- I guess, the one who's filing. Rather than being the receiver of this one, they're suing a Facebook group over reviews, or Facebook administrator groups over reviews.

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, this is-- in this case, Amazon is the victim. They have a number of individuals across the world who will pay other users to post positive reviews on specific products. And so Amazon is cracking down on this, essentially filing suit against the administrators of these Facebook groups. Not against Facebook itself, but against these Facebook groups, basically saying, you know, you're violating our rights by going ahead and paying people to post these positive reviews. That then skews what you would see on Amazon.

So if you go and file-- filter on a list by positive reviews, the phony products or the reviews for phony products will filter up to the top. And so people will be more likely to purchase those, just by virtue of the fact that they're up there and seemingly have five star or 4.5 star reviews. So Amazon has been cracking down on this for a long time. This is something that's basically just been a scourge for them. And so they're now taking legal action against these kinds of groups.

And we can see that as they do move against them, some of these groups do fall apart. But then they're reconstituted, and they'll change their names to something else on another website or platform. So it's going to be something that Amazon is going to be working against, I think, for its existence, unless there's some broader way that they can make a crackdown. But if you're going to pay people to post something online, they're probably going to do it.