Amazon Work Injuries on the Rise
Amazon Employees are Injured More Often than Other Workers
There’s no denying that today, Amazon is one of the most popular marketplaces in the world. There are 200 million Amazon Prime members spread across the globe, more than half of which are in the US. And as of July 2021, Amazon employs more than one million people. These million employees cover a vast range of roles, from managers to delivery drivers and everything in between. Perhaps one of the most challenging job titles at Amazon, and unfortunately one of the most dangerous, is warehouse worker. In the US alone, there are over 100 Amazon fulfillment centers, all full of warehouse workers that are often pushed to their limits, or past them.
In the past year, the pandemic has caused even more people to switch to primarily online shopping, and expectations for what constitutes a reasonable delivery window have grown shorter and shorter. Today, it’s not unusual for an Amazon package to arrive on a consumer’s doorstep just 24 hours after they clicked purchase. But the scope of Amazon and the pressure to move at this unbelievable clip come with a set of consequences, and most often, it’s the warehouse workers that are on the receiving end. Injury records show that Amazon jobs are often more dangerous than similar types of jobs at other companies. More than once, Amazon employees have sought legal action against the company.
Unfortunately, warehouse worker injuries are not uncommon at Amazon, and the company has been met with criticism from labor groups in Philadelphia and elsewhere. If you have experienced an Amazon work injury, or a workplace injury at another company, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation. Our team at Munley Law can help you with that, and ensure you receive the benefits you are due.
Amazon Workers Comp Injury Rates
Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey are among the states that reported higher rates of Amazon workplace injuries between 2017 and 2020, Pennsylvania being the highest of the three. In fact, in 2020, Amazon warehouses in Pennsylvania reported 7.2 serious incidents for every 200,000 hours worked (a length of time that equates to 100 employees working full time for a year). How does this compare to other companies? It’s nearly double, as reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer by Christian Hetrick and Chis A. Williams.
Non-Amazon warehouses in Pennsylvania in the same year reported a rate of 3.9 serious injuries for the same amount of time. While Pennsylvania’s injury rate is the most shocking, Amazon warehouses in Delaware and New Jersey don’t appear much safer. Across all three states, Amazon reported a serious injury rate of 4.9. Across the same three states, Walmart, one of amazon’s biggest rivals, reported an overall serious incident rate of 3.4. FedEx and U.P.S. also reported lower rates in the same states (2.3 and 3.1 respectively). Though overall serious incident rates did decline in New Jersey and Delaware during the past year, those in Pennsylvania actually went up, and all three remain higher than the rates of other companies in the same states.
This information comes from an Inquirer analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data compiled by the Washington Post. What is it that makes Amazon a seemingly more dangerous working environment? One criticism is that employees are pressured to work too quickly and not given enough breaks, which inevitably leads to injury.
What Types of On-the-Job Injuries are Taking Place?
One of the leading types of injuries experienced by Amazon employees is that related to musculoskeletal disorders. These are injuries that, according to the CDC, involve a person’s muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs, and they can manifest as back pain, strains, hernias, carpal tunnel, and more. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told shareholders in April of 2021 that these injuries make up about 40 percent of work-related injuries at Amazon.
If you or a loved one experienced an injury like this, whether at Amazon or another company, Munley Law is here to help. We are so sorry for the pain and struggle you’re certainly facing as you heal, and it’s our mission to help you receive the damages and fair representation you are owed.
What Causes These Amazon Warehouse Injuries?
Musculoskeletal injury is often caused by repetitive motions, which can stress the same area of the body over and over again. Amazon workers reported to the Inquirer that their jobs often require “non stop” lifting, twisting, and turning, which is made worse by the fact that Amazon workers are often pressured to work at an unrealistically quick pace and not allowed substantial physical recovery time.
In 2020, as online shopping soared to new heights, Amazon saw a 38% rise in year-over-year sales, reaching a whopping total of $386.1 billion. More than 35,000 job postings were listed for the approximately 60 facilities Amazon operates in the Philadelphia region, a 1,600% increase from 2019. This staggering number is about seven times more than the next-closest employer in the area.
Amazon does create jobs, but its critics have argued that it prioritizes expansion over the safety of its employees.
One Amazon employee, Philadelphia resident Wilberte Moise, reported that she was pressured to move an eighty pound package while working at the King of Prussia facility. Even after she noted the item was too heavy for her to lift, her manager replied, “You have to find a way to move it and put it where it belongs.” When Moise did attempt to move the package, she took a hard fall, she says, “Instantly, my knee started swelling up.” The fall resulted in a torn lateral meniscus in her left knee that still bothers her today. Her fiance also reported an injury in the warehouse (this time a torn rotator cuff) for which he says he has still received no worker’s compensation. In an unfortunate situation like this, we highly recommend hiring a worker’s compensation attorney, such as those at Munley Law.
The Impact of Constant Surveillance
Workers also reported near-constant monitoring and surveillance, and the company measures “time off task” (time an employee spends away from their work station). This constant surveillance means that workers often lack the ability to stretch, readjust, rest, or otherwise take steps towards preventing injury. Debbie Berkowitz, a former OSHA chief of staff, has said, “that constant surveillance and monitoring and discipline, which means they can’t adjust when their bodies start hurting, is actually a big factor in causing these high rates of injuries.”
How Have Jeff Bezos and Amazon Responded?
Jeff Bezos and the company as a whole have mostly denied these allegations. They insist that employees are allowed breaks if needed in order to prevent injury, and that they are not held to unrealistic performance standards. Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, also asserted that the data is skewed due to the fact that Amazon has recently seen a surge in younger employees, ages 18 to 24, who are more likely as a demographic to exert themselves to the point of injury. However, the company has still acknowledged that there is room for improvement. Bezos vowed to make Amazon “Earth’s safest place to work”, and has also said the company will invest $300 million in various safety projects.
How Munley Law Can Help
We here at Munley Law are so deeply sorry that you or a loved one has experienced an injury in the workplace, at Amazon, or elsewhere but we can assure you there is hope. Munley Law is here to help you find a way through by providing excellent legal support and services.
The lawyers at Munley Law are experts in all things workers’ comp and personal injury; our team consists of ten excellent, highly experienced lawyers and dozens of excellent legal support staff. Each of our lawyers has over a decade of experience, as well as hands-on trial and courtroom experience. We do not get paid unless we win your case, and we will be by your side as you fight to make things right.
If you are in the process of seeking workers’ compensation, or if you have questions about your rights to these benefits, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Munley Law. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn how we can help protect your interests.
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