Amazon warehouse workers suffer serious injuries at twice the rate of rivals, study finds
In 2021, there were 6.8 serious injuries for every 100 Amazon warehouse workers. That’s more than twice the rate of all other employers in the warehouse industry, which had 3.3 serious injuries per 100 workers, the Strategic Organizing Center said in a report released Tuesday.
The SOC, which is a coalition of labor unions including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union, analyzed data Amazon submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about its warehouses in 2021.
Even as Amazon last year set its sights on improving workplace safety, including a pledge to become “Earth’s Safest Place to Work” injuries at its U.S. warehouses increased between 2020 and 2021.
In total, Amazon reported approximately 38,300 total injuries at its U.S. facilities in 2021, up about 20% from 27,100 injuries in 2020. The vast majority of injuries in 2021 were categorized as serious, or injuries “where workers were hurt so badly that they were either unable to perform their regular job functions (light duty) or forced to miss work entirely (lost time),” according to the report.
Amazon was responsible for a “staggering” amount of worker injuries in the U.S., the report found. In 2021, Amazon accounted for almost half of all injuries in the industry, while making up a third of all U.S. warehouse workers.
Representatives from Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the findings.
Earlier this year, Amazon disclosed it spent $300 million on worker safety improvements in 2021. It said the rate of employees who missed work due to a workplace injury dropped by 43% in 2020 from the prior year.
Still, Amazon has faced pressure from lawmakers and its own employees to address the breakneck pace of work inside its warehouses. Last fall, California’s State Senate passed a landmark bill aimed at curbing Amazon’s use of productivity quotas in its facilities.
Warehouse and delivery workers have routinely spoken out against the company, arguing its “customer obsession” and focus on speedy delivery have created an unsafe working environment. They’ve claimed the breakneck pace doesn’t allow for adequate breaks and bathroom time.
Those concerns have come into greater focus as unionization efforts have ramped up at Amazon warehouses. This month, Amazon workers on New York’s Staten Island voted to form the first union at an Amazon warehouse. The union has called for Amazon to put in place “more reasonable” productivity rates in the warehouse, among other demands.
Last year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos laid out a vision for improving the company’s workplace safety, acknowledging it needed “a better vision for our employees’ success.” Amazon also launched a series of wellness programs, with the aim of cutting recordable incident rates by 50% by 2025.