Amazon: Double The Injuries Among Warehouse Workers
Amazon is in hot water again, as data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration showed the company’s warehouse workers are more likely to sustain work-related injuries than other warehouse workers in retail. For over three years now, Amazon has reported a higher rate of serious injury accidents that caused employees to miss work or be transferred to light-duty tasks, compared to non-Amazon retail warehouse workers.
According to MSN, “In 2020, for every 200,000 hours worked at an Amazon warehouse in the United States — the equivalent of 100 employees working full time for a year — there were 5.9 serious incidents, according to the OSHA data. That’s nearly double the rate of non-Amazon warehouses.”
Walmart, on the other hand, the largest private US employer reported 2.5 serious cases per 100 workers at its warehouses in 2020.
OSHA data did not disclose the cause of worker injuries, but former officials, union representatives, and Amazon workers say productivity pressures are leading to unsafe work conditions. The e-commerce giant has steep hourly rates for stowing, picking, and packing items.
Not surprisingly, Jeff Bezos has said, “We don’t set unreasonable performance goals.” Instead, he claims, “We set achievable performance goals that take into account tenure and actual employee performance data.”
Kelly Nantel, a company spokeswoman, 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.”
Former OSHA chief of staff Debbie Berkowitz said, “The pace of work, and the amount of twisting and turning, is enormous. There is a constant pressure to work fast.”
Amazon employs nearly 1.3 million workers worldwide, the majority of whom work in its fulfillment centers, transportation hubs, and grocery stores. Accounting for an estimated 40% of online retail in the US, Amazon is pursuing aggressive expansion plans. The company is seeking to hire an additional 75,000 employees across its fulfillment and transportation operations, offering $1,000 signing bonuses in some locations and paying $17 per hour.
The company’s competitive pay structure and benefits package has long been a selling point, attracting workers despite the tough working conditions.
A recently published brochure — “Amazonian’s Guide to Health and Wellness” — notes that some warehouse employees may walk up to 13 miles a day, or lift as much as 20,000 pounds by the end of their shift.
“Profits over people” isn’t just a phrase – it’s an unfortunate reality for some people at Amazon.