Warehouse workers in Pennsylvania are almost twice as likely to get seriously injured if they work for Amazon than for another company, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer recently. With the popularity of online shopping, Amazon has opened thousands of positions in the tri-state area, which research shows could be more dangerous than comparable warehouse work.
The Inquirer analyzed OSHA data from 2017 to 2020, showing that Amazon warehouses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware had higher rates of injuries than their counterparts. “In some counties, such as Bucks, Philadelphia, and New Castle, Del., Amazon’s serious injury rates were more than double,” the article stated.
Among the three states, Pennsylvania was the frontrunner with the highest injury count. Pennsylvania had 7.2 serious injuries for every 200,000 hours worked, as compared to non-Amazon warehouses that had 3.9 serious injuries in the same timeframe. This is in line with a recent study by the Strategic Organizing Center that cited workplace safety concerns at Amazon.
While the data did not cite the causes of the injuries, former CEO Jeff Bezos told shareholders that about 40 percent were related to musculoskeletal disorders brought on by repetitive motions. At issue is whether Amazon’s measure of employee productivity pressures workers into “nonstop” lifting, twisting and turning without adequate breaks.
Amazon’s hiring spree during the pandemic has slightly increased its serious injury rates in Pennsylvania in 2020. The company posted more than 35,000 jobs in the Philadelphia region alone and had nearly 60 facilities in the region or online as of April. While still higher than its competitors, Amazon’s serious injury rates did decrease in New Jersey and Delaware this past year.
Mounting scrutiny about safety has prompted Teamsters Local 623 in Philadelphia to try to organize Amazon employees into a union. However, Amazon workers in Alabama recently rejected unionization by a significant margin.