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Supply Chain News: Amazon FC Worker get Hurt more Often, Report Claims, as CEO Promises to Reduce Injuries


New CEO Jassy Faces Two Shareholder Votes Relative to Analysis of Fulfillment Center Injuries

April 19, 2022


SCDigest Editorial Staff

A new report from a union-backed organization alleges workers at Amazon Fulfillment Centers (FCs) are hurt more often than the average worker at other warehouses, based on government data.

The Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) analyzed injury data that Amazon submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for 2021 and found that Amazon’s overall injury rate increased by 20% from 2020 to 2021.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

Last week, in a letter to shareholders, new Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said that ““We’re also passionate about further improving safety in our fulfillment network, with a focus on reducing strains, sprains, falls, and repetitive stress injuries.”

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The analysis also found that rates of serious injury at Amazon FCs was 6.8 per 100 workers, or more than double the rate at non-Amazon warehouses (3.3 per 100). Serious injuries are defined incidents in which workers are hurt enough that they were either unable to perform their regular job functions or were forced to miss work entirely for some period.

The report says that workers at Amazon facilities sustained nearly 40,000 injuries in 2021. While Amazon employed 33% of all US warehouse workers in 2021, the company was responsible for a significant 49% of all injuries in the industry last year.

SOC, as it has done in previous reports, blames the pace of work required at Amazon FCs and related productivity monitoring systems and standards as causing the higher rate of injury in Amazon building.

“Amazon’s obsession with speed has played a role in driving its injury rates higher,” the new report claims.

SOC backs that claim by noting that from 2017 to 2021, the only year that Amazon’s injury rates declined was in 2020. That year, the report says, was the same year that Amazon temporarily eased its work speed pressures as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic by suspending disciplinary action against workers for underperformance on productivity metrics.

The report includes the chart below, comparing injury rates at Amazon with those of all other facilities. As can be seen, the rates for serious injuries that require time off, at 1.7% per 100 workers, are the same for both Amazon and non-Amazon workers.

Source: SOC



What causes Amazon to have a much higher overall “serious” injury rate comes relative to what might be called modest injuries that forces a worker to do another job. There the Amazon rate is 5.1%, versus just 1.6% for all other facilities.

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This report, as in previous ones from SOC, also finds that there are more injuries at more automated Amazon FCs versus more manual operations. The SOC’s theory: Robots drive worker production speeds higher, making working conditions even more dangerous.

“One report found that the productivity target for the average picker, a worker who selects merchandise from shelves of bins increases from 100 to 300-400 items per hour when robots are introduced into a warehouse,” the SOC report says.

New Amazon CEO Pledges Improved Safety

Amazon in the past has disputed data finding its has higher rates than other warehouse operators.

But last week, in a letter to shareholders, new Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said that “We’re also passionate about further improving safety in our fulfillment network, with a focus on reducing strains, sprains, falls, and repetitive stress injuries.”

That statement coming weeks before votes next month by shareholders on two resolutions tied to workplace injuries. One calls for an independent audit into the working conditions and treatment of its warehouse workers. A second measure seeks to assess whether Amazon's policies give rise to racial and gender disparities in its workplace injury rates.

Amazon opposes both resolutions.

Jassy also wrote that the Amazon’s injury rates are often misunderstood because it has operations jobs that fit both the “warehousing” and “courier and delivery” categories.

Jassy, referencing Amazon’s own data, said the company’s warehouse injury rates “were a little higher than the average” compared to other warehouses, but lower than average compared to Amazon’s courier and delivery peers.

What is your opinion of Amazon and FC injuries? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below (email) or in the Feedback section.




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