A new report analyzing Amazon’s injury data reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 2020 and 2021 revealed an astounding injury rate among Amazon delivery drivers. Nearly one in five Amazon delivery drivers suffered work-related injuries in 2021, which was more than 40% higher than in 2020. The report, compiled by the Strategic Organizing Center, also reveals that Amazon packaging warehouses and delivery systems remain among the most dangerous in the nation compared to the rest of the industry.
A key complaint from drivers or Delivery Service Partners is Amazon’s exceptionally high quota requirement to deliver hundreds of packages daily per van, about 350 to 400 packages during peak hours. DSPs are workers subcontracted by Amazon, but not technically employed by the company.
Meeting these totally unreasonable quotas forces workers to engage in unsafe driving and stopping practices. Amazon also creates dangerous and exploitative competition between drivers by ranking them based on package delivery rates. Low ranking drivers risk being fired.
According to insurance provider Pinnacol Assurance, DSPs suffered disproportionate injuries from falls, ankle strains, dog bites, vehicle accidents and striking physical objects. Pinnacol Assurance also reported a high incidence of strain injuries, reflecting the pace and weight of packages being delivered by DSPs on a daily basis.
Despite being well aware of how hazardous its delivery system is, Amazon refuses to implement concrete measures to safeguard the health of its employees. For example, lawsuits against Amazon assert that the company refused even basic accommodations like requests for using smaller vans in narrow streets for better navigation. Amazon reportedly also refused to alter delivery routes to account for traffic and difficult terrain while still applying unreasonable delivery quotas.
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel disputed the SOC report and doubled down on Amazon’s shoddy safety record claiming technology like “innovative cameras” helped reduce injuries. But this claim is contested by the SOC report, which documented how drivers found that Amazon used cameras to surveil performance, in turn leading to even more unsafe conditions and injuries. This was corroborated by safety inspectors who found that high production speeds and mass surveillance-type discipline systems are so dangerous that they violate workplace safety regulations.
Amazon’s persistent violations of workplace safety and its blatant disregard for its workers prove even further that Jeff Bezos and the other company executives cannot be trusted to look out for employees’ well-being. Bezos continues to accumulate enormous amounts of wealth while the workers that make Amazon run are experiencing worsening physical and mental hardship. The only way to force a change in working conditions is through building collective power. Supporting Amazon workers’ fight for unionization across the country is crucial.