A new study released April 12 revealed that workers in Amazon warehouses suffer injuries more than twice as frequently as warehouse workers at other companies. The study was compiled by the Strategic Organizing Center. The report’s findings directly contradict Amazon’s frequently repeated claims that it is prioritizing workplace safety across its locations.
Data submitted to the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) from Amazon also found that the rate of injury increased by 20% between 2020 and 2021. Amazon has increasingly come under fire in recent years for subjecting workers to outrageous conditions, forcing its drivers to urinate in bottles to save time and cutting corners for COVID-19 safety. There were “38,334 total recordable injuries – defined as those requiring medical treatment beyond first aid or requiring time off a worker’s regular job—at Amazon facilities.” Among these, 89% were so serious that workers were unable to perform their regular jobs.
Despite injuries, Amazon’s strategy has been to force employees to keep working even when they are recovering to reduce lost time and save on workers’ compensation – all of which significantly prolongs recovery time. Due to management’s cruelty, it takes injured Amazon warehouse workers 62.2 days to recover, more than 40 percent longer than the average non-Amazon warehouse worker. Safety inspectors have found that Amazon’s hazardous workplace practices like high production speeds and mass surveillance-type discipline systems are so dangerous that they violate workplace safety regulations.
Instead of changing warehouse working conditions, Amazon doubled down on denying these allegations and published a public relations piece earlier this year ridiculously titled “Delivered with Care.” The report intentionally misled the public, suggesting that workers at the company enjoyed safer conditions in 2022 even though the company fully knew that workplace injuries increased rather than decreased over the past year.
Recently, Amazon workers in Staten Island’s JFK8 warehouse voted to unionize in a historic victory against the corporate giant. JFK8 workers said that Amazon’s culture of fear fomented by intense productivity monitoring was a key motivation behind the drive to unionize.
All of this is clear evidence that Amazon cannot be trusted to implement basic safety protocols for its workers, because such a move would come at the expense of its profits. While workers suffer from debilitating and repeated injuries, Amazon’s owner Jeff Bezos rakes in billions and is the second richest person in the world. 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.