Amazon Workers Face High Injury Rates – Especially During the Holiday Season
December 9, 2019
According to an investigation by the Atlantic and Reveal, Amazon warehouse workers face exceptionally high injury rates. With the rapidly approaching holiday season comes more intense job pressure, so the dangers are actually increasing. The company calls its fulfillment centers places “where all Amazon orders come to life,” but they are also places with incident rates of 9.6 serious injuries per every 100 employees, whereas the industry average is 4.
Amazon employs approximately 125,000 workers at 110 different fulfillment centers across the country. Although the company claims the high injury rates simply result from employing a large workforce, workers say they have to scramble to meet company-imposed quotas. One employee says that she has to scan more than 300 items per hour just to meet her quota, and that last year a doctor diagnosed her with chronic pain, back pain, and overall joint inflammation.
Common Injuries At Amazon’s Fulfillment Centers
Some of Amazon’s fulfillment centers have incident rates as high as 15.09 serious injuries per every 100 full-time employees, like the company’s one on Staten Island. Here are just a few examples of complaints logged by some of this location’s employees:
- A woman said she had a miscarriage and that her managers still refused to place her in an area where she would bend and twist less on the job,
- Numerous cases of repetitive injuries, such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome,
- Cold temperatures at work, which leaves employees vulnerable to an array of cold stress injuries, and:
- Minor cuts, bruises, and muscle strains
These complaints and reports are not the first time a finger has been pointed at Amazon’s disappointing and dangerous treatment of its workforce. Just months ago on “Prime Day”, workers in Minneapolis walked out to protest against the company’s strict system (called “the rate”) that surveys employee productivity levels. Strikes like this have happened around the world, with the most recent being in Berlin, Germany.
Workplace Safety and Health Programs
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enacted fines against Amazon in the past, but apparently none served as sobering enough reminders to the company to implement compliant and effective workplace safety programs. The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health makes an annual “Dirty Dozen” list, which lists the most dangerous jobs and workplaces in the U.S. This year, Amazon made the list. At least six workers died on the job between November 2018 and April 2019.
Employers are legally obligated to provide safe and healthful workplaces to their employees – but far too often companies (even those that are making billions of dollars a year) fail to prioritize the safety of their hardworking workforce. In this case, Amazon is certainly no exception. Just two months ago a 48-year-old man went into cardiac arrest at an Amazon warehouse in Ohio; it took the company twenty minutes before a floor monitor even noticed him lying on the floor. After the worker passed away, workers were forced to return to work that very same shift. At that same location, 28 phone calls to 9-1-1 were made between January and March of this year.
Amazon must be held responsible for protecting the safety of their workers and not be allowed to put them in danger any longer. With the holiday season upon us, Amazon employees are under a lot of pressure from management to meet quotas and be efficient – but getting home safely needs to be the number one priority from the top down.
The majority of injuries, illnesses, and deaths that occur in on the job are preventable – but not without effective safety programs designed to guard workers from avoidable hazards in place. Workers should report safety violations in the workplace as well. Through OSHA, you can do this anonymously – and it is illegal for a boss to take a retaliatory measure. To learn more about filing an anonymous workplace safety violation complaint, please visit: https://www.osha.gov/contactus/bystate.
If you have questions about being injured at work, please contact a representative at our firm who can help.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured at Work
If you were injured at work, please contact our Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys. Galfand Berger has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.