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Amazon sure seems to be getting some bad press right around Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday shopping season.

In the company’s rush to bring one-day delivery on a large swath of the earth’s products, worker health and safety may be taking a back seat. Tt’s something to ponder as we head toward the biggest shopping days of the year.

In case you missed it, The Atlantic and the Center for Investigative Reporting published a study on high rates of injuries and problems with reporting injuries at Amazon’s fulfillment warehouses:

TechAmazonWorkerSafety(2019)(AtlanticArticle)

And NBC News has published a piece on its investigation into safety problems with Amazon’s logistics delivery system:

AmazonDeliverySafety(2019)

This follows several interesting articles focusing on difficult working conditions for Amazon Flex drivers, the first being a 2018 piece titled “I Delivered Packages for Amazon and It Was a Nightmare”:

AmazonFlexDeliveryDrivers(6.25.18)

And the second being a April 2019 piece on Splinter titled “We are Treated Like Animals, Say Amazon Flex Drivers” which can be found here:

https://splinternews.com/we-are-treated-like-animals-say-amazon-flex-drivers-1834142643

I’ll be there first to admit that I am a heavy Amazon user. As much as one may love independent bookstores, music stores (if you can find them in your area), neighborhood hardware stores, and electronics discounters, the temptation to browse and click while relaxing or multitasking is almost overwhelming. One or two day delivery is magical. Maybe it’s environmentally correct as well, not having to drive around to make tons of stops.

But these are articles are troubling. In the warehouse fulfillment centers the old time and motion  studies and process engineering have been ramped up and fused with robotics. It appears that humans are having trouble keeping up. Over time some of these worker tasks will probably be removed as robotic solutions are designed, but for now we are seeing high injury rates.

If ever there was an argument for the need for cumulative trauma claims, this is it.

And logistics delivery people are being pushed to the max in the field, taking our stuff to us on that “last mile”.

Some of these delivery people may or may not be Amazon employees. Now that Dynamex is being imported in California workers’ comp after passage of AB5, there will be likely efforts to assign employment status to Amazon Flex drivers and workers for delivery “subcontractors” who provide vans with Amazon logos:

AmazonDeliveryInfoPacket(2019)

Cal-OSHA inspectors should be keeping a close eye on Amazon. And those of us in the comp community will likely be seeing more of these cases in the future.

Julius Young

Boxer & Gerson LLP

https://www.boxerlaw.com/attorney/julius-o-young/

Julius Young

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