Day 6

In Amazon's warehouses injury rates are twice the U.S. national average

Amid the Black Friday sales, a new investigation finds that nearly 10 per cent of Amazon warehouse workers will suffer serious injuries on the job.

The boxes may be smiling but many Amazon employees are not

An employee works at the the Amazon fulfillment centre in Brampton, Ont. The company has close to 200 centres around the world. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

It's hard not to get caught up in the shopping rush that comes with Black Friday and Cyber Monday — and for Amazon, it's one of the busiest weeks of the year, in addition to Amazon's Prime Days.

That means a lot of products moving through Amazon's warehouses, where, according to a new investigative report, serious injury rates are double the national average for warehouse jobs in the U.S.

The report is a joint collaboration by Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting, and the Atlantic. 

Some warehouses, according to the report, have a serious injury rate four times the national average. At an Amazon warehouse in Eastvale, Calif., which has one of the highest rates of injury, there were 422 injuries recorded last year.

The injuries go beyond sprains, muscles strains and repetitive stress injuries. In Indiana, a worker was killed in a forklift accident in 2017.

The investigative report suggests that the injuries are, in part, due to the pressure for warehouse employees to move hundreds of items per hour. Warehouses can receive hundreds of thousands of orders each day. 

Orders must be filled quickly, and every product is tracked as it moves through the warehouse – right down to the second.

"If you don't hit your quotas you get a write-up," said Will Evans, a reporter for Reveal.

"If you get too many write-ups, you get fired, and all the workers know this so they're under a lot of pressure and a lot of fear of losing their jobs. And many have told me they will sacrifice their bodies essentially."

To hear more from Will Evans, download our podcast or click Listen above.


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