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The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health released its 2019 “dirty dozen” companies that the organization says failed to protect workers from preventable illness, injury and death.
The list, which was released in conjunction with Workers’ Memorial Week, included Amazon.com Inc., a prominent hospital, a social media employer and a pharmaceutical company.
“We want to shine a light on unsafe practices and motivate employers to do a better job of protecting workers,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of San Diego-based National COSH in a press call Wednesday. “Workers continue to die on the job at tragic levels. Most of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented with well-known basic safety measures.”
Workplace fatalities have increased 11% since 2012, with 5,147 workers dying from trauma on the job in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This year’s list includes:
Amazon was listed for a second year in a row and, according to National COSH, recorded six worker deaths over a seven-month span. Genan, Integra, Tooma and XPO also reportedly had workers killed on the job, said the nonprofit in a release.
National COSH listed Facebook and affiliated companies for allegedly requiring low-paid content monitors to remove objectional content from the web, including hate speech, pornography and images of suicides and beheadings; Johns Hopkins for allegations by nurses of high levels of workplace violence; and Purdue as an alleged contributor to the opioid crisis.
McDonald’s and Atlantic were cited for allegedly ignoring or retaliating against reports of sexual harassment, and Bedrock for alleged safety violations and poor treatment of inspectors.
Ms. Goldstein-Gelb noted that Mooresville, North Carolina-based Lowe’s Cos. Inc., which was listed in 2018’s dirty dozen list for selling paint stripper including methylene chloride, voluntarily stopped selling products containing that chemical in 2018. Last month, the substance was banned for consumer use in paint thinners by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
A spokesperson for Amazon argued that National COSH, as a nonprofit coalition of labor unions, has a “business cause to undermine Amazon’s reputation through a clear campaign of misinformation.”
“Safety is our number one priority,” the spokesperson said. “While any serious incident is one too many, we learn and improve our programs to prevent future incidents. Safety training and continuous improvement is something tens of thousands of Amazon associates and partner companies focus on every day.”
A Facebook spokesperson said the company is committed to working with its partners to provide support for content reviewers.
“Everyone who reviews content for Facebook goes through an in-depth, multiweek training program on our community standards and has access to extensive support to ensure their well-being and resiliency,” said the spokesperson. “We are also employing technical solutions to limit exposure to graphic material as much as possible. This is an important issue, and we are committed to getting this right.”
A spokesperson for Atlantic Capes Fisheries said National COSH wrongly named it on its “dirty dozen” list and said the sexual harassment claims used as the basis for its inclusion on the list predated its acquisition of IQF Custom Packing Inc., the Fall River, Massachusetts, processing plant where the alleged harassment took place. He also said the majority of the plant’s employees were temporary workers employed by BJ’s Service Co. BJ’s did not respond to a request for comment.
“ACF is pleased that three of the four named plaintiffs have worked continuously (for the company) for a number of years and remain valued employees in the company's operations,” said the spokesperson. “When ACF acquired the Fall River facility in 2013, it immediately put in place equal opportunity, anti-discrimination and anti-sexual harassment policies and practices. ACF has a zero sexual harassment tolerance policy.”
Beiza Brothers and Tooma Enterprises were unable to be reached for comment. The remaining companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Private industry employers reported nearly 45,800 fewer nonfatal injury and illness cases in 2017 compared with a year earlier, according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday.