Jainchill & Beckert, LLC

Worker injuries spike at Amazon warehouses during holiday season

Online shoppers in Connecticut and nationwide place many orders at Amazon during the holidays, and the extra workload appears to translate into more injuries among warehouse workers. News organizations that investigated injury rates at the online retailer's warehouses identified an increase in worker injuries in the weeks around Black Friday 2018 according to Amazon's records. Investigators concluded that seasonal temporary workers unfamiliar with warehouse conditions and mandatory 12-hour shifts reduced workplace safety.

Journalists also found disturbing evidence suggesting that the company had actively suppressed injury reports prior to 2016. Statements from three former safety managers at Amazon described orders from upper management that directed them to find reasons to avoid recording injuries. Amazon denies that the company ever had such a policy although it updated its policy in 2016 to require the reporting of all injuries.

The investigative report recounted a startling incident reported by an inspector from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. After investigating a warehouse worker's death, he concluded that inadequate training had resulted in the fatal accident. At the time, the state where the death occurred was trying to convince Amazon to locate its second headquarters there. A labor commissioner, in the company of the governor, reportedly told him to blame the worker for the accident.

Employers can unfortunately feel pressure to cut corners on workplace safety and conceal accident data. In this environment, an injured worker might want legal representation when trying to report a safety hazard or collect workers' compensation benefits. With legal support, a person might overcome obstacles like an uncooperative employer or hostile insurer. An attorney may help a person obtain an independent medical exam that fully details the extent of injury and recommended treatment. An attorney might cite this vital information when pursuing an insurance settlement for the injured worker.

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