Is Amazon Keeping Workers Safe?

Amazon, one of the world’s largest companies, continually asserts that safety is their number one priority. However, numerous safety and other violations throw that statement into question. In fact, as of last year, they were listed as one of the most dangerous places to work at.

A Record of Injuries

This listing was not without merit. In 2017, two separate incidents at Amazon factories led to worker deaths. An investigation by the State of Indiana found four safety violations. At one warehouse in September 2017 Phillip Terry was fatally crushed by a forklift’s lift which he was doing routine maintenance on.

In the same month, David Shoemaker was crushed by a loading truck at an Amazon facility. Amazon vowed to improve their safety after a severe fine from the Indiana Department of Labor. In a statement, Amazon proclaimed, ” Safety is our number one priority, and as we do with any incident, we are reviewing our practices and protocols to ensure the well-being of our employees. Any safety incident that occurs within our operations is one too many.”

However, more injuries have occurred since then. In December 2018, a bizarre incident occurred at a New Jersey factory in which a can of bear repellent fell off a shelf and injured seventeen workers.

Amazon has been fined for seventeen worker safety violations and thirty-five aviation safety violations. Aviation safety violations include mishandling dangerous substances on a flight. One such incident occurred in 2016 when Amazon illegally shipped drain cleaner by air and UPS workers were hurt. The FAA fined them 350,000 dollars.

Company Response

Amazon has been insistent that they care about worker safety. They have released several statements to that effect. What practical steps they will take in the coming year to resolve these issues remains to be seen.

Amazon has not been completely neglectful in ensuring safety in their facilities. According to an article from Business Insider, dated to April 2018, they have launched a Safety Leadership Index. This program is a survey in which workers can report their perceptions of how safe their facilities are. This is one way that Amazon shows it is trying to improve safety for their employees. Only time will tell if these methods prove effective.

The company has also decided to begin fining sellers that do not meet their safety standards. Amazon has self-reported that there were 42 violations of Department of Transportation standards this year compared to 32 in 2016. If anything, the company efforts shows that they may be attempting to pay closer attention to safety issues.

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