As reported by BBC on June 2, 2021, Amazon’s employees are injured at a higher rate than those doing similar jobs at other companies’ warehouses.
A union-backed study of safety data found Amazon workers had 5.9 serious injuries per 100 people – almost 80% higher than the rest of the industry. The organizers of this study believe it has to do with Amazon’s “obsession with speed” that this number is so much higher than their competitors.
This study was conducted by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), which is a coalition of labor unions. This group analyzed data from 2017-2020 for the study. Their findings showed that “workers at Amazon warehouses are not only injured more frequently than in non-Amazon warehouses, they are also injured more severely.” They also found that the workers who took time off for injuries were out for an average of 46.3 days which is a week longer than the average in the warehouse industry. Compared to Walmart, which is their largest retail competitor, Amazon’s injury rate was more than double.
Employees injured while working at Amazon: The SOC characterized the report as an “epidemic of workplace injuries.”
In a statement made by Amazon they said they invested more than $1 billion in workplace safety last year. An Amazon spokesperson said “While any incident is one too many, we are continuously learning and seeing improvements through ergonomics programs, guided exercises at employees’ workstations, mechanical assistance equipment, workstation setup and design, and forklift telematics and guardrails – to name a few.”
Earlier this year, the company apologized for falsely denying that its drivers are forced to urinate in plastic bottles. Also, with this allegation many of Amazon’s employees on driving routes and at warehouses revealed they feel that they are under too much time pressure to use bathrooms. During the first wave of the COVID pandemic the company was accused of “cutting corners” on COVID safety, although Amazon also denied this.
A technology news site, Motherboard, published an Amazon warehouse pamphlet issued under the “working well” branding telling workers they should think of themselves as “industrial athletes.” This pamphlet said that like athletes who train for events “industrial athletes need to prepare their bodies to be able to perform their best at work.” Some of the positions walk up to 13 miles a day while others will have to lift a total of 20,000 pounds before a shift is done, the pamphlet warns Amazon’s “industrial athletes.” The pamphlet also offers tips on health and fitness, including encouraging Amazon’s workers to exercise on days off, maintaining a good diet to fuel the 400 calories an hour they expect employees to burn, and buying shoes that will fit swollen feet from the active working environment. Amazon told Motherboard that the pamphlet was an error and was removed although the Amazon employee who provided it to Motherboard said it had been available on-site for many months.
In a separate development for US Amazon employees, the company also said it will stop testing some employees for marijuana use. “We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use,” Amazon said in a blog post. “Given where state laws are moving across the US, we’ve changed course,” executive Dave Clark wrote – but added that people would still be checked for impairment “after any incident”. Amazon also will back federal law that would legalize marijuana and expunge past criminal records.
If you feel you are unable to voice your concerns about your working conditions at Amazon, contact us for further assistance.
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