Recently, Reveal magazine from the Center for Investigative Reporting published a report about the safety crisis at Amazon warehouses. Amazon has made its warehouses as efficient as possible, even using robots to speed up picking and production.
Amazon advertises its robots as good for workers and good for customers. Each picking trip completed by a robot can save around 45 minutes of human effort. Even at peak times — the holidays and Prime Day — the frantic speed is safe enough for workers because the robots do most of the work, Amazon says.
Yet Reveal accessed company records, including internal safety reports and weekly injury numbers that paint a different picture. According to Reveal, the company has profoundly misled the public and U.S. lawmakers about its workplace safety record.
The injury rates at Amazon have gone up every year for the past four years, according to that internal data. The injury rate at the robotic warehouses is higher than at traditional warehouses. The injury rate during peak times is even higher.
In 2019, there were 14,000 serious injuries reported at Amazon fulfillment centers. Serious injuries were defined as those requiring a job restriction or days off. That’s a rate of 7.7 serious injuries per 100 workers, and it is nearly double the industry standard.
Amazon touts having spent tens of millions to enhance safety at the fulfillment centers and claims that these investments are working. Yet, year after year, the injury rates continue to rise.
What kinds of injuries occur in warehouses?
Whether you work at Amazon or another warehouse, you could be exposed to many hazards. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are several important safety hazards for warehouse workers:
- Unsafe use of forklifts
- Improper stacking of products
- Failure to use personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Failure to use proper lockout/tagout procedures around heavy machinery
- Inadequate fire safety provisions
- Repetitive motion injuries
For example, OHSA says that around 100 workers are injured each year and another 95,000 are injured while operating forklifts. A significant percentage of these injuries and deaths involve forklift turnovers.
Forklifts can also run off the dock. Products can fall on workers. Forklifts can strike people working nearby.
There are a wide variety of potentially painful and serious injuries that can occur doing warehouse work. This is especially true when the work is rushed or done under pressure.
If you have been injured in a warehouse, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Talk to a lawyer to get started on your claim.