Amazon is responsible for half of US warehouse injuries in 2021

published on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 at 18:19

Amazon employs a third of workers working in warehouses in the United States, but nearly half of workplace accidents at such locations occurred at the e-commerce giant in 2021, according to a report by a coalition of labor unions released on Tuesday.

Workers at Amazon’s fulfillment centers suffered more than 34,000 “serious injuries” at their jobs last year, twice the number at U.S. warehouses, according to the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), which is not affiliated with the Seattle group.

“After relaxing some of its disciplinary measures in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Amazon reinstated its control systems and production pressures in late 2020, significantly increasing the injury rate,” states the SOC.

“The injury rate in Amazon stores increased by 20% between 2020 and 2021,” the coalition adds.

When asked by AFP, Amazon explained this situation as a need to quickly “hire tens of thousands of people to meet unforeseen needs” linked to the health crisis.

“Like other companies in the industry, we saw an increase in accidents between 2020 and 2021 as we trained so many new people,” said Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the group, on Wednesday. “However, if you compare 2021 to 2019, our work injury rate is down 13% year over year.”

In the United States, Amazon has grown from about 700 locations in 2020 to more than 900 in 2021 and from about 200,000 employees in 2017 to more than 560,000 in 2021, according to this report, based on data Amazon the ‘ OSHA, the federal agency responsible for the prevention of occupational injuries.

In June 2021, Amazon reviewed working conditions in this country, in particular by extending breaks for its workers who are responsible for preparing, shipping and delivering packages.

The move comes after the SOC’s previous damning report and an attempt at unionization at a company warehouse in Alabama. This had failed, but the campaign had exposed the pace of work, which many employees found to be hellish.

“We have to do better for our employees,” wrote Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in his annual letter to shareholders.

“We will be the best employer and the safest place to work in the world,” he pledged, noting in particular measures that have already been taken or are being implemented to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders associated with repetitive tasks.

“We still have work to do and won’t be satisfied until we excel at safety, but we continue to make visible progress,” added Kelly Nantel.

Workers at the “JFK8” site in New York voted by a majority to form a union in late March, a first at an American warehouse owned by Amazon.

Leave a Comment