• Sen. Sanders accused Amazon of failing to provide 'adequate worker protections'
  • The Senate's HELP Committee has sought information from current and former Amazon employees
  • Amazon is also the subject of separate probes by the DOJ and OSHA

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has launched an investigation into the alleged "dangerous" conditions at Amazon warehouses.

"The company's quest for profits at all costs has led to unsafe physical environments, intense pressure to work at unsustainable rates, and inadequate medical attention for tens of thousands of Amazon workers every year," Sanders wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy announcing the probe.

Sanders said the e-commerce giant was "well aware" of the dangerous conditions its employees were faced with in warehouses but it made "a calculated decision not to implement adequate worker protections."

The Vermont senator went on to accuse Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Jassy of creating "a corporate culture that treats workers as disposable."

Sanders said the company "makes decisions that actively harm workers" whether in the design of its warehouses, the paces of work requirements, worker injuries, work station setups and "subsequent pressure to return to work."

The longtime House representative further questioned why Amazon cannot afford to improve its warehouses when it "can afford to pay you [Jassy] $289 million" in the past two years.

Sanders has given Jassy until July 5 to respond to queries the senator laid out in the letter. The committee has also called on Amazon's current and former employees to provide accounts of their experiences working at the company that will help with the investigation.

Steve Kelly, an Amazon spokesperson, strongly denied Sanders' claims in a statement to CNBC. The company also separately said that it has invited Sanders to check on one of the e-commerce company's warehouses.

The HELP Committee's probe comes on the heels of two other federal investigations into the company's warehouse conditions.

In January, the Department of Justice's (DOJ) civil division launched an investigation into Amazon's alleged engagement in what it called a "fraudulent schemed designed to hide the true number of injuries" among its workers.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York also urged current and former Amazon employees to provide "as much information as you are comfortable sharing" regarding their experiences with the company to help with the probe.

In February, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed that it found Amazon failed "to keep workers safe" and exposed employees "to ergonomic hazards" at three facilities.

"Amazon's operating methods are creating hazardous work conditions and processes, leading to serious worker injuries," said Doug Parker, assistant secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, as per a press release.

The OSHA also cited Amazon in a separate investigation in December for its alleged failure to "properly record work-related injuries and illnesses" in six warehouse facilities across five states.

The citations mentioned two warehouses in New York, as well as facilities in Illinois, Idaho, Colorado and Florida.

Aside from federal probes, Amazon is also the target of a class action lawsuit filed by three delivery drivers who claimed that poor working conditions forced them to urinate in bottles and defecate in dog waste bags in their vans as they had to keep up with timely deliveries.

The Amazon delivery drivers from Colorado, which include two women and an Iraq War veteran, alleged that the e-commerce giant violated Colorado labor laws that required companies to provide its employees with paid rest breaks after every four hours on the job.

The multiple probes and a recent lawsuit aren't Amazon's only problems in recent months as its employees have been protesting the company's return-to-office mandate among other issues.

Corporate workers staged a walkout late last month over what organizers said was a "lack of trust" in company leadership. Organizers said more than 1,000 corporate employees took part in the event but Amazon said there were only around 300 people who joined the walkout, CNN reported.

"We're here because a lot of Amazonians feel in their gut that something is not right with the company. And there are a lot of signs of this, such as a rigid, one-size-fits-all return-to-office mandate," former Amazon worker and co-founder of the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice group, Eliza Pan, said during the event in Seattle.

Ahead of the walkout, organizers said the RTO mandate, mass layoffs "and a broken Climate Pledge" signaled that Amazon leadership was taking the company "in the wrong direction."

Cyber Monday at the Amazon fulfilment centre in Robbinsville Township in New Jersey
Amazon was previously cited by the OSHA for alleged poor workplace conditions and potential under-reporting of worker injuries. Reuters