By Ralph Ellis, WebMD
About 38,000 Amazon workers were injured on the job in 2021, a 20% increase over the previous year, according to a new report from the Strategic Organizing Center, a group representing four major unions.
Those Amazon warehouse injuries represented 49% of all U.S. warehouse injuries for the year, the report said. The serious injury rate at Amazon warehouses was 6.8 per 100 workers, compared to 3.3 per 100 workers at non-Amazon warehouses, the report said.
The SOC came to its conclusions by studying injury data submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
An Amazon spokesperson told Gizmodo, which published a story about the SOC report, that the rising injury rate was partly caused by the company training a record number of new employees.
“Like other companies in the industry, we saw an increase in recordable injuries during this time from 2020 to 2021 as we trained so many new people – however, when you compare 2021 to 2019, our recordable injury rate declined more than 13% year over year,” the spokesperson told Gizmodo.
“While we still have more work to do and won’t be satisfied until we are excellent when it comes to safety, we continue to make measurable improvements in reducing injuries and keeping employees safe and appreciate the work from all of our employees and safety teams who are contributing to this effort.”
About 89% of the Amazon injuries were so severe, the workers either left work or were unable to perform their normal functions, according to the report, which also found that Amazon warehouse workers needed around 19 more days to recover from injuries than workers at non-Amazon warehouses.
The SOC says Amazon emphasizes production speed in warehouses, which contributes to the high injury rates.
“Amazon’s obsession with speed has played a role in driving its injury rates higher. Amazon uses extensive productivity and monitoring systems to increase pressure on workers to move at dangerous speeds,” the report said.
The SOC says it has about 4 million members from four unions: Service Employees International Union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Communications Workers of America, and United Farm Workers of America.