Amazon – Delivering Permanent Injury To Its Workers
Amazon is known for its ruthless pursuit of profits. In December 2018, Eastvale, CA warehouse workers earned T-shirts celebrating their ability to get one million packages out the door in just 24 hours. But this “achievement” comes at a significant cost: workers’ health.
The Story of One Worker
The Atlantic recently reported on the experience of Candace Dixon, an Amazon employee who worked out of Amazon’s warehouse in Eastvale, California.
Her job as a stower, Dixon had to retrieve an item out of a box, scan it, lift it onto the rack and scan its new location. She would then use a stepladder to put the items on the top rack. As soon as a rack was filled, Dixon pressed a button, and a robot whisked it away. Then she would do it again. And again.
In fact, Dixon was required to scan a new item every 11 seconds to hit her quota, processing more than 300 pieces per hour. Dixon reported that if she didn’t hit her quota, she was subject to a write-up and could be fired if she didn’t work faster.
Not surprisingly, Dixon’s eventually suffered a back injury, which may result in permanent damage.
Amazon’s Injury Records
An investigation from the Center for Investigative Reporting uncovered some alarming facts about Amazon’s relentless production goals and its effect on its workers.
Records from 23 of the company’s 110 fulfillment centers nationwide found that the rate of serious injuries for those facilities was more than double the national average for the warehousing industry: 9.6 serious injuries per 100 full-time workers in 2018, compared with an industry average of 4.
Though a few centers were below the industry average, some centers, such as the Eastvale warehouse, had unusually high rates of injury. For example, the Eastvale warehouse had 422 injuries recorded in 2018. The location’s rate of serious injuries was more than four times the industry average.
Injured Workers Have Rights
California’s injured workers are protected from employers that damage injured workers’ health over a period of time.
California is one of the few states in the country that provides workers’ compensation benefits when they suffer a cumulative injury due to the nature of their work. Such benefits could include medical treatment and disability benefits.