Amazon warehouse injury rate up 20% last year: report

According to a report, the injury rate at Amazon warehouses rose 20% in 2021, despite a promise made by Jeff Bezos before he stepped down as chief executive a year ago to address the issue.

The Strategic Organizing Center, a group of four unions representing 4 million workers, found that Amazon is responsible for about half of all injuries in warehouses, SOC said Tuesday. At the same time, the e-commerce giant provides only a third of all warehouse jobs in the US

The report is based on data submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

According to the study, employees at Amazon facilities suffered about 38,000 injuries in 2021, compared to 27,700 in 2020 and 21,200 in 2019, and the rate of serious injuries was 6.8 per 100 Amazon employees, compared to 3.3 per 100 at non-Amazon establishments.

Yellow crates are stacked up in an Amazon warehouse.
Jeff Bezos pledged last year that Amazon would invest in reducing repetitive injuries caused by working at its facilities.
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An Amazon worker standing over a box on an assembly line.
More than 10 states are introducing legislation to meet the high productivity rate requirements in warehouses.
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An Amazon employee was spotted working in a warehouse.
An Amazon employee was spotted working in a warehouse.
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In his final letter to shareholders of 2021, Bezos said the company is investing $300 million in safety projects to reduce so-called repetitive strain injuries at Amazon’s 1,500 facilities worldwide.

The SOC blamed Amazon for the higher injury rate over the past year after it increased its productivity requirements after relaxing them in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic.

By October 2020, “even as the number of COVID cases began to rise,” according to the report, Amazon reinstated its manufacturing work rates “just ahead of Prime Day” as part of its “obsessive focus on speed,” according to the report.

An Amazon employee enters a warehouse.
According to the working group report, Amazon warehouse workers account for a third of the industry but half of all injuries.
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An Amazon fulfillment center with a vote banner.
Unions have looked at workplace safety issues to fuel their organizing efforts at Amazon warehouses.
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A warehouse worker wears a special robotic vest that gives her access to Amazon's robotic floors.
A warehouse worker wears a special robotic vest that gives her access to Amazon’s robotic floors.
Denver Post via Getty Images

“Amazon’s high-pressure production model harms workers,” the SOC wrote in the report. In Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, the Washington state OSHA bureau charged Amazon with violating federal health and safety laws that linked the company’s fast pace of work to the high injury rate at its facilities, the report said.

In September 2021, California passed legislation to curb production rates in warehouses, citing Amazon’s work rate as a primary reason for the law, and according to the report, 10 similar bills have been introduced in other states.

Labor groups slammed the findings, including Teamsters President Sean O’Brien, who said in a statement: “Amazon is an abusive employer. They show total disregard for working people. It’s time to confront the tyrant head-on.” The Teamsters are one of the four working groups that make up SOC.

Amazon did not immediately respond to comment. Amazon warehouse injury rate up 20% last year: report


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