Warehouse workers must pack and ship the orders placed on Amazon when consumers in Florida shop at the online retail giant. A media investigation of warehouse working conditions has revealed how the company buried information about worker injuries. Up until 2015, three safety managers formerly employed by Amazon said that they were instructed by upper management to find reasons to avoid recording injuries.
The most egregious incident uncovered by the investigation alleged that the government of a Midwest state interfered in the investigation of a workplace death. The investigator from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the state’s labor commissioner told him to place the blame for the fatal workplace accident on the worker. This was done because the state was trying to convince Amazon to base its second headquarters in that state. The OSHA investigator had found that the worker who died had not been sufficiently trained. The state’s governor attended a meeting with the investigator when he was told to skew the report in Amazon’s favor or resign. The investigator left his job as a result.
Although Amazon has since altered its policies to report all worker injuries, workers continue to get hurt on a regular basis. The holiday shopping season triggers spikes in injury numbers at the retailer’s warehouses. The report attributed the increase in accidents to mandatory 12-hour shifts and the seasonal influx of temporary workers.
A work environment that forces long hours and discourages injury reports can make it difficult for an injured worker to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. Such a person might benefit from the support of an attorney who may be able to prepare an insurance claim and assert the person’s rights to paid medical care after an on-the-job injury. A lawsuit might even be filed if an insurer denies a claim.