A report issued by a union coalition found that Amazon warehouses are still a more dangerous place to work than similar facilities based on recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.
The report from the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) states that there were 6.6 serious injuries for every 100 Amazon workers in 2022, according to injury and illness data submitted by Amazon to OSHA.
That’s more than double the rate of all non-Amazon warehouses, which had 3.2 serious injuries for every 100 workers, according to CNBC.
Amazon had a rate of 5.9 serious injuries for every 100 workers in 2020. That rate shot up to 6.8 serious injuries for every 100 workers in 2021, then dropped by about 3% between 2021 and 2022. The company attributed the 2021 jump in injuries to a warehouse hiring push that occurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While its injury rate fell, total injuries increased
While the company’s serious injury rate fell between 2021 and 2022, the amount of overall injuries at its U.S. facilities increased to 39,000 total injuries, up from 38,300 in 2021.
In 2022, Amazon warehouses were responsible for more than half of all serious injuries in the warehousing industry. Amazon warehouses employ 36% of the industry’s workers, according to the report.
Amazon’s “failure to make meaningful progress on worker safety makes it clear the retailer has failed to prioritize the needs of its own workers,” the SOC report states. “The SOC analysis reveals that even in the face of increasing public scrutiny, Amazon continues to push a dangerous pace of work and extensive monitoring policies that result in high rates of injury.”
The company’s “ongoing failure to provide safe working conditions raises major questions about whether the company’s management is serious about becoming ‘earth’s safest place to work,’ or whether it continues to put profits before the safety of the very people responsible for its success.”
Company disputes use of ‘serious injury rate’
Amazon responded, saying the report’s findings “paint an inaccurate picture,” CNBC states.
“The safety and health of our employees is, and always will be, our top priority, and any claim otherwise is inaccurate,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC. “We’re proud of the progress made by our team and we’ll continue working hard together to keep getting better every day.”
The company “also disputed the SOC’s use of the term ‘serious injury rate,’ saying it’s not a regulatory metric.” That term could “capture any injury that could lead to an employee taking time away from work, or spending time working in another role, including what (Amazon) considers to be minor injuries, such as a strain that might require a worker to avoid lifting heavy boxes.”
Instead, Amazon said its lost time incident rate should be used, which “measures the number of incident that require workers to take time off.” This metric is below the warehousing industry average, according to the company.
Federal, state investigations led to citations in 2022
Several Amazon warehouses were the target of federal investigations over various safety violations in 2022, with OSHA citing six of its warehouses for ergonomics hazards and injury reporting failures. Those citations followed ongoing inspections by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York at several locations.
In March 2022, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries “cited Amazon’s flagship facility in Kent, Washington, over unsafe work practices,” finding that many Amazon jobs involve ergonomic hazards and a fast pace that increases the risk of injury.