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Alabama Injured Worker

Do Amazon Employees Face A Broken Work Comp System?

Do half of Amazon’s warehouse workers really suffer work-related accidents and injuries? A recent research article noted a full 41% of current Amazon warehouse workers reported being injured on-the-job. When the study examined longer-term workers, a full 51% reported being injured at-work. Those are huge numbers. That’s a real safety problem! The real numbers are probably much, much higher as the report only examined current Amazon employees. How many employees suffered injuries, left the company, and are uncounted? How many former Amazon workers are suffering permanent disabilities or chronic pain from work-related accidents?

The study also noted Amazon workers must frequently take unpaid time off for pain. That’s a huge cost to injured workers. If your workforce is taking time off to recover or rest from injuries, it’s a huge burden on families. If this study is accurate, it’s a huge problem.

As an Alabama workers’ compensation lawyer, I’m concerned with safety issues that lead to injuries as well as the impact of injuries on workers in our communities. I’ve tried work comp cases across Alabama. I continue to help and advise my disabled clients long after the trials are concluded. So, I understand the long-term impact of chronic pain and disability on the person suffering as well as their entire family.

Let’s go back to the report that around 50% of Amazon workers suffer injuries at work. If true, the question becomes, why? Why are Amazon warehouse workers suffering serious personal injuries in such large numbers? I can tell you — If half of your workforce suffers injuries at your company, you are doing something wrong!!

Before I get to the “why,” let’s look at a little more perspective. Are Amazon warehouse work injury rates higher than other warehouses? According to another study using data in 2021, the serious injury rate at Amazon warehouses was more than double the rate at non-Amazon warehouses. Again, this is a big red flag warning of work accident dangers within Amazon warehouses.

Now, let’s look at the why. After the revealing study reported such huge accident and injury percentages at Amazon warehouses, safety groups began interviewing workers. These follow-up interviews and studies concluded “how Amazon designs its processes — including extensive monitoring and the rapid pace of work — are contributing to a considerable physical and mental health toll, including injuries, burnout, and exhaustion.” Amazon’s processes put workers in danger. As a work accident lawyer, I can tell you — How you design and plan your processes is the most important safety factor.

Speed is a primary injury factor! Many researchers have concluded “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.” If you push workers far too fast, they will suffer injuries. That’s why we always see so many injuries in fast-paced places, like local poultry plants.

Robotic facilities increase the speed and pressure on workers. Within Amazon for several years, robotic warehouses experienced higher rates of work-related injury than non-robotic warehouses. The reason is simple — Robots drive production speeds higher, making working conditions for humans more dangerous. They increase the pressure on workers to move at even higher rates.

A push to keep injured workers on the job without recovering, worsens injuries and leads to chronic conditions. If you are injured on the job, you should receive workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits serve two really valuable purposes. First, the injured worker is entitled to medical care. Second, the injured worker should receive compensation for impairments or disabilities that impact their ability to function. A skilled Alabama work accident lawyer can help explain these valuable benefits. We counsel injured workers every day.

When a worker suffers serious injury, they need time to heal. When an employer forces a worker to continue performing substantial physical tasks despite a serious injury, the employer is putting that worker at risk. An injury that would likely heal with a little time or treatment can become chronic or disabling. In some cases, employers will simply force workers to remain on-the-job, putting the injured worker (and maybe his or her co-workers) at risk. Some employers will also create so-called light duty work. This can be a big problem where the employer calls the position “light duty” but, in reality, pressures the worker to perform the full tasks of work. Over the years, I’ve frequently counseled injured workers forced by their employers to remain at work in positions that were falsely labelled “light.” Is the employer pressuring the worker to work beyond their injured capabilities? Some employers respect the time you need to heal. Some do not. If you are in this situation, you should discuss your options with an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney who handles work comp claims.