Amazon is one of the mainstays of the global economy. However, it appears working at the company comes with lots of personal risks, as the workers suffered almost half of all warehouse injuries last year.
If you plan to work at Amazon, you may have to pay attention to some sobering statistics. The company, which accounts for one-third of the warehouse employees in the US, recorded almost half of all the warehouse injuries in the country in 2021. This data comes from an advocacy group known as Strategic Organizing Center, SOC.
SOC went through data available at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA. The union also discovered that workers are double more likely to be seriously injured in an Amazon warehouse than in warehouses owned by other companies.
Serious injuries in this report cover situations where the victim had to take time off work to recover or got a reduced workload to cope. The classification is provided in OSHA’s report as “cases with days away from work” and “cases with job transfer or restriction.”
However, SOC reported that Amazon would reduce injured workers’ duties rather than grant them days off. Not surprisingly, injured Amazon workers took significantly longer days to recover than their colleagues in other companies. (62 days on average, instead of 44 across the industry).
Altogether, Amazon workers suffered more than 34,000 injuries in 2021.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s staff have said their job was not inherently dangerous, but the pace the company demands is grueling, thanks to its automated systems. Amazon allowed its workers to slow down during the pandemic, which was why the injury rate was low in 2020. But the rates spiked in 2021 by about 20 percent when the retail giant resumed its fast pace. However, reported injuries were lower in 2021 than in 2019.
Even with the reduced pace of work, Amazon was criticized for how it responded to Covid-19 at its facilities, especially in New York. The treatment inspired efforts for unionizing, which sought to fight for better working conditions for the workers. The company has also been sued by New York’s Attorney General Letitia James, citing Amazon’s failure to protect its workers and retaliation against those that spoke up.
It has been known that workers get injured more at Amazon warehouses than elsewhere. Reports showed that the injury rate was twice the industry average in 2020. Also, workers at warehouses where Amazon has automated have a higher risk of injuries, a fact the company is aware of.
Amazon says it wants to make its facilities the safest, but apparently, much has to be done to reach the goal.
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel explains to The Verge that the increase in injuries in 2021 was due to the company’s newly hired hands. “We hired tens of thousands of additional people to help us meet the unforeseen demand from COVID-19 and people turning to Amazon to help them safely get products and supplies during the pandemic. Like other companies in the industry, we saw an increase in recordable injuries during this time from 2020 to 2021 as we trained so many new people – however, when you compare 2021 to 2019, our recordable injury rate declined more than 13% year over year. While we still have more work to do and won’t be satisfied until we are excellent when it comes to safety, we continue to make measurable improvements in reducing injuries and keeping employees safe, and appreciate the work from all of our employees and safety teams who are contributing to this effort.”