Investigation finds Amazon violating workplace safety rules
The Atlantic and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting have published a joint report on an investigation made into the safety conditions of Amazon warehouses across the United States. Amazon workers in Florida, as elsewhere, may be aware already that warehouse work is considered dangerous. The long hours and fast pace can lead to musculoskeletal injuries and incidents arising from fatigue.
The investigation reported that for years up until 2015, Amazon had been violating workplace safety regulations by refusing employees’ requests for injury logs. In those cases where it agreed to share anything, it only provided partial logs and lied to employees that the logs were confidential.
Amazon was found to be systematically hiding workplace injuries. It was also reported that an Amazon investigator had been told on one occasion to downplay Amazon’s role in the death of a warehouse worker and shift the blame onto the victim. The investigator believed that Amazon had failed to provide sufficient training. He was eventually forced to resign.
Injury rates in Amazon warehouses spike during the holiday season. The reason is that Amazon mandates a 12-hour shift and that many of its seasonal workers are unaccustomed to such a rushed environment. Amazon, for its part, says that injury rates go up because it has been hiring more employees.
Workers’ comp benefits should cover medical expenses and a portion of lost income. While injured employees are entitled to benefits under workers’ compensation law, the above story shows that the benefits are not always guaranteed. Employers have the right to deny payment if they can show that victims were to blame for their own injuries, so it may be a good idea to see a lawyer before filing anything. A lawyer may also help with mounting an appeal.