The Injury Machine: How Amazon’s Production System Hurts Workers
Workers at Amazon facilities sustained more than 34,000 serious injuries on the job in 2021—leading to a serious injury rate at Amazon warehouses that is more than twice as high as the rate at non-Amazon warehouses, according to a new report released by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC).
This report, which analyzes new data submitted by Amazon to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), finds that in stark contrast to Jeff Bezos’ recent pledge to make Amazon “Earth’s Safest Place to Work,” the injury rate at Amazon facilities increased by 20 percent between 2020 and 2021. After relaxing some of its discipline systems in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon reimplemented its monitoring systems and production pressures in late 2020, and its injury rates rose substantially. In 2021, Amazon employed one-third of all warehouse workers in the U.S., but it was responsible for nearly one-half (49 percent) of all injuries in the warehouse industry.
Legislators and health and safety inspectors have taken notice of Amazon’s dangerous production system and are responding: California passed a bill regulating the use of production quotas in warehouse distribution centers, and in Washington state, health and safety inspectors have issued Amazon multiple citations for unsafe working conditions, including the company’s “very high pace of work.”