ONTARIO, Calif. — A disturbing analysis of newly released Amazon injury records shows that injury rates at its facilities increased by a staggering 20 percent from 2020 to 2021. The report finds Amazon warehouse workers were seriously injured at twice the rate of other warehouse employers at 6.8 per 100 workers, as compared to 3.3 per 100 for all other employers in the warehouse industry.
A review of California-specific data shows that injury rates in California increased 30 percent, to a rate that was over 60% higher than the rate of injuries at other warehouse companies in the state.
For years, Amazon’s warehouses and related logistics operations in California have led the nation in the number of serious injuries among warehouse workers. In 2021, the injury crisis for its warehouse workers got even worse. Compared to 2020, Amazon’s California warehouse workers suffered ten injuries for every 100 full-time workers – a 30% increase from the already high rate of 7.7 per 100 full-time workers in 2020.
“Too many people who work in Amazon facilities get injured. The data shows that this company continues to prioritize speed and profits at a terrible cost to the health and well being of its employees,” said Sheheryar Kaoosji, executive director of the Warehouse Worker Resource Center.
California is a major market for Amazon. In 2021, Amazon had a total of 123 fulfillment centers, sortation centers and delivery stations in California, with a total of 77,664 workers.
The Injury Machine: How Amazon’s Production System Hurts Workers, published April 12 by the Strategic Organizing Center, examines Amazon’s safety and injury trends across a five-year period, focusing on the most recent employer-reported data from 2021 released earlier this month by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). According to the report, the company’s crushing work pace, punitive surveillance programs and the prevalence of robotics technology only heightens pressure on workers and fuels the nation’s second-largest private employer’s alarming injury rates, despite Amazon executives’ promises to improve safety at its warehouses.
“Amazon’s back-breaking work pace is only getting worse,” said Eric Frumin, Director of Health and Safety at the Strategic Organizing Center. “The very same year that Amazon promised to address worker safety, injury rates shot up 20 percent, facilities with robotic technology became more dangerous — and Amazon spent millions of dollars to mislead the public about the reality in their warehouses. The company’s obsession with speed is crushing tens of thousands of workers each year, and Amazon seems to have no plan to stop.”
Nationally, workers at Amazon facilities suffered nearly 40,000 injuries in 2021, according to SOC’s analysis. While Amazon employed 33% of all U.S. warehouse workers in 2021, the company was responsible for 49% of all injuries in the warehouse industry last year.
Key findings in the California data include:
- The Redlands, Calif. fulfillment Center (known as ONT9) had the highest year-on-year increase in 2021 of any large Amazon warehouse in the state. After already being the third-worst large warehouse in the state in 2020, the overall injury rate at ONT9 jumped by another 26% in 2021 – a clear indication of the management’s failure to focus on the most urgent safety problems in the state.
- Workers at 51 of the largest logistics centers in California suffered a total of 5,848 injuries and illnesses in 2021, of which fully 5,119, or nearly 90%, were serious enough to either force the workers to stop working entirely, or require them to switch to another job.
- At 36 of those 51 sites, so many warehouse workers were injured that the injury rates exceeded Amazon’s already terrible 2021 national average warehouse injury of 7.9 cases/100 workers.
Among these were the massive multi-thousand-employee facilities in San Bernardino (ONT5), Moreno Valley (ONT6), Rialto, Eastvale, Bakersfield, Beaumont and Fresno, which together accounted for over 1700 injuries in 2021.
The SOC report also finds that new robotic technology in 2021 that Amazon claimed “could make work safer for employees” may not have had that impact. Serious injury rates at Amazon’s sortable facilities with robotic technology grew by 20 percent from 2020 to 2021. In 2021, these facilities had a serious injury rate of 7.3 per 100 workers — 28 percent higher than the rate at non-robotic sortable facilities (5.7 per 100).
The Warehouse Worker Resource Center is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) dedicated to improving working conditions in the warehouse industry in Southern California. We focus on education, advocacy and action to change poor working conditions in the largest hub of warehousing in the country.