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Amazon Warehouse Injury Rate Last Year Was More Than Double the Rate of Other Warehouses, Study Reveals

The company has come under fire for unsafe working conditions in recent years.

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Amazon has come under fire for unsafe working conditions in recent years, from accusations of failing to observe appropriate Covid-19 protocols at the height of the pandemic, to concerns surrounding its emergency-response procedures after a tornado killed six at an Edwardsville, Illinois warehouse in December. Most recently, a study from the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), a coalition of four labor unions, found that Amazon warehouse workers were injured at twice the rate of other companies' warehouse employees last year.

The SOC analyzed the injury data Amazon submitted to the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 2021. Last year, Amazon employed 33% of all U.S. warehouse workers, yet its workers accounted for 49% of all injuries across the industry. There were also 38,334 total recordable injuries at Amazon facilities, including approximately 34,000 deemed serious, defined as preventing workers from performing their typical duties or causing them to miss work completely.

Related: Amazon Workers Walk Off Job, Say the Company Cut Break Times Because the Pandemic Is 'Supposedly' Over

The report compared injuries at Amazon warehouses to those at other companies' facilities, revealing that the ecommerce giant reported 6.8 serious injuries per 100 warehouse workers, while competitors reported 3.3 serious injuries per 100 workers. The injury rates were calculated as aggregates of rates at individual locations. A previous report from the SOC that looked at similar data from 2017 to 2020 also revealed that Amazon warehouses are less safe than other facilities.

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel addressed the SOC report, saying, "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." Nantel also noted the company has hired tens of thousands of additional workers to meet increased demand.

Last year, the company announced it would put $300 million towards projects promoting safety, including a new wellness initiative called WorkingWell, aiming to reduce its recordable injury rate by half by 2025.

Related: Amazon Workers Detail Disturbing Work Conditions in Complaint Filed to the National Labor Relations Board

The SOC report's release also coincides with the Department of Labor's issuing of a rare "willful severe" citation in Amazon's home state of Washington, along with a $60,000 fine, for knowingly putting employees at risk of injury. Per the department's inspection, 10 of 12 processes evaluated "create a serious hazard for work-related back, shoulder, wrist, and knee injuries."

Earlier this month, workers at a New York City Amazon warehouse made history as the first to unionize in the U.S. since the company's 1994 founding, fueled by workplace safety concerns.

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