AFP, published on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 at 6:19 p.m.
Amazon employs a third of workers working in warehouses in the United States, but nearly half of the work accidents in these types of sites occurred at the e-commerce giant in 2021, according to a report published Tuesday by a coalition of unions.
Workers at Amazon’s logistics centers suffered more than 34,000 ‘serious injuries’ in their workplaces last year, twice as high as those in US warehouses, according to the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC). not belonging to the Seattle group.
“After relaxing some of its disciplinary methods during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Amazon reinstated its control systems and production pressure at the end of 2020, and the injury rate increased significantly as a result,” indicates the SOC.
“The injury rate in Amazon warehouses has increased by 20% between 2020 and 2021,” adds the coalition.
Asked by AFP, Amazon explained this situation by the need to quickly hire “tens of thousands of people to meet the unforeseen demand” linked to the health crisis.
“Like other companies in the industry, we saw an increase in accidents between 2020 and 2021, when we were training so many new people,” detailed Wednesday Kelly Nantel, a spokesperson for the group. “However, when you compare 2021 to 2019, our work injury rate has declined 13% year over year.”
In the United States, Amazon has grown from around 700 sites in 2020 to more than 900 in 2021, and from around 200,000 employees in 2017 to more than 560,000 in 2021, according to this report based on data provided by Amazon to the ‘OSHA, the federal agency responsible for the prevention of accidents at work.
In June 2021, Amazon had reviewed working conditions in this country, in particular by extending the breaks for its workers responsible for preparing packages, shipping them and delivering them.
The move came after the SOC’s previous damning report, and an attempted unionization at a company warehouse in Alabama. This had failed, but the campaign had exposed the pace of work deemed infernal by many employees.
“We need to do better for our employees,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wrote in his annual letter to shareholders.
“We are going to be the best employer and the safest place to work on Earth,” he promised, referring in particular to measures already taken or being deployed to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders linked to repetitive tasks.
“We still have work to do and we won’t be satisfied until we are excellent in terms of safety, but we continue to make visible progress,” added Kelly Nantel.
Employees of the site called “JFK8” in New York voted in majority at the end of March for the creation of a union, a first in an American warehouse of Amazon.