The Public Health Crisis Hidden in Amazon Warehouses
In a new report published today by Human Impact Partners (HIP) and Warehouse Worker Resource Center (WWRC), The Public Health Crisis Hidden in Amazon Warehouses details Amazon’s inhumane performance quotas and surveillance practices. As COVID-19 shelter in place orders surge Amazon usage, its workplace policies are triggering a California public health crisis impacting thousands of workers, their families, and our broader communities.
“I was injured during peak when they changed our schedule from four 10-hour shifts to five 12-hour shifts,” says Samantha, a worker from the Eastvale warehouse. A lot of us actually ended up getting injured because we weren’t used to the two extra hours and the whole extra 12-hour day.”
Amazon raked in nearly $100 billion in 2020, and warehouse workers and drivers paid the price. In HIP/WWRC’s research, 67% of all warehouse workers surveyed reported developing injuries at work. The majority of workers surveyed, 75%, say their required performance rate is either “always” or “often” too high to work at a safe pace. Additionally, more than 75% of those surveyed said they experience physical pain and/or injuries in efforts to “make rate.” Researchers also learned that Amazon’s quotas and monitoring systems have led to a range of musculoskeletal injuries at nearly twice the national rate of injury for warehouse workers.
Key findings highlighted in the report include:
- Workers must take breaks within a 6-minute window, making restroom use, or hand washing, often impossible.
- The organizational flow and structure of the workplace is causing work-related injuries such as back, wrist, and neck injuries.
- Workers suffer from mental health issues due to the fear of contacting COVID-19 and/or being fired for not meeting work quotas.
- A rise in COVID-19 outbreaks have been documented as pace of work has increased, compounded by a lack of COVID-19 precautions. But, the company has been slow to share outbreak information with its workers.
“I’m scared to go into work because of COVID-19,” says Mike, a Delivery Center worker from Hawthorne. “I have a disabled brother who is in a wheelchair, and he’s got a trach[eostomy]. If he catches it, it’ll kill him.”
The responsibilities of essential employees like Amazon warehouse workers and delivery drivers enable millions of Southern California residents to receive goods directly to their doorsteps. They deserve to work in an environment in which their health and safety is valued and protected.
To support public health and safety, the report lays out HIP and WWRC’s three recommendations for California policymakers and the California Department of Public Health:
- Prohibit inhumane and hazardous production standards at Amazon and throughout the warehouse industry.
- Implement stronger COVID-19 precautions at all Amazon warehouses and for subcontracted delivery drivers.
- Ensure working conditions are within an ergonomic framework.
Read the full report by clicking The Public Health Crisis Hidden in Amazon Warehouses.