Drivers of hundreds of Amazon delivery contractors in the United States carrying packages to customers’ doors are injured at higher rates than any other link in the supply chain, says new report from national labor organization from the trade giant.
Amazon’s contract delivery drivers are also hit at higher rates than competitor UPS, according to report, of the Strategic Organization Center. The union coalition analyzed injury data collected by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The report’s findings represent the most detailed examination to date of injuries suffered by workers tasked with the crucial “last mile” of Amazon delivery. A survey last year by Reveal of the Center for Investigative Reporting found that injuries in Amazon warehouses are double the industry average, but delivery drivers were not included in that tally.
The new data shows that last year, Amazon’s contract delivery drivers were injured at nearly double the rate of employees at the company’s distribution centers. Warehouse workers at delivery stations – smaller facilities built closer to population centers that allow one-day, same-day shipping – are also more often injured than workers at distribution centers.
Taking into account the injuries of delivery drivers as well as the nearly 27,000 injuries in Amazon warehouses last year, “Amazon is now one of the most responsible companies for workplace injuries in the United States.” said Eric Frumin, director of health and safety at the Strategic Organizing Center. “What’s really amazing is how irresponsible the company seems, literally. They are not prepared to take responsibility for these injuries.
Amazon drivers are also injured more often – and more seriously – than UPS drivers, the data shows. Amazon drivers suffered 13.3 injuries per 100 workers last year, compared to 9 injuries per 100 workers for UPS. Amazon drivers were also nearly three times more likely than UPS drivers to sustain injuries severe enough to require time off work.
Amazon’s relentless pace is at the heart of the company’s high injury rates at the company’s warehouses, the Washington workplace safety regulator concluded last month after an inspection of Amazon’s warehouse at DuPont, in Pierce County.
The Washington regulator has found a “direct link” between the injuries and Amazon’s expectation that employees “keep the pace of work very fast” or be subject to disciplinary action.
Amazon, who did not answer questions for this story, appealed the finding. The company said it was taking many steps to protect workers, including instituting a new safety program that it says will help cut injury rates in half over the next four years. Amazon also made changes to one of the systems it uses to monitor warehouse worker productivity on Tuesday.
The frenetic pace of parcel delivery – and the punishment for those who fall behind – is hurting Amazon contract drivers and others on the road, according to drivers, media and lawsuits.
Amazon’s network of delivery contractors, which the company calls delivery service partners, has been plagued by reports of traffic accidents and wage theft for years. Drivers in nearly a dozen states have sued Amazon and its contractors for pressuring them to work legally mandatory breaks. Often, drivers say, their workload is so heavy that they can’t stop to relieve themselves.
Amazon tracks driver productivity and disciplines those who fail to meet delivery targets. Drivers are also rated on their compliance with road safety standards: Amazon’s latest surveillance measures involve installing always-on cameras equipped with software that detects unsafe driving behavior.
“During the pandemic, we were doing over 400 packages a day,” said John Bruglio, former delivery driver and Amazon dispatcher in the Everett area. If drivers did not complete their routes, he said, they were taken off the schedule.
Several years ago, Bruglio said he strained his back carrying heavy packages up the stairs in the apartment. He never knew exactly what his injury was, he said, as he had no health insurance. Even if he had been insured, he could not have afforded time off: his employer, Genesis Delivery, did not offer paid time off for doctor visits. Instead, he said, he worked through the pain.
Another former Seattle-area driver, who asked to remain anonymous because his current employer did not allow him to speak to the media, said he also made the decision to continue working after a heavy van door closed over his knee.
Her employer, Progistics, “said I could take a day and go to the doctor, but I wouldn’t get paid,” the driver said. “It’s not really an option when you have $ 20,000 in student debt and live in an apartment that costs $ 800 a month. Half of my income was accounted for before I could even buy a meal… and medical bills are hardly achievable at this point either. “
Progistics CEO Joel Ritch did not answer questions. Mike Buckley, the owner of Genesis, which disbanded last year, declined to comment. The two companies are among eight Amazon delivery providers in Washington state named in a class-action wage theft settlement announced in March.
“Amazon cares more about the package and the customer than how it gets there,” Bruglio said. His colleagues, he said, were “exhausted. They get hurt, they have to work badly, and if you don’t like it, you get fired.
Amazon’s decision to contract with third parties to do some of the company’s most dangerous jobs has protected the company from certain costs and liabilities associated with driver injuries and car crashes. Between 2015 and 2019, Amazon’s contract delivery drivers were involved in at least 60 serious injury crashes, including 10 fatalities, a ProPublica survey found. Amazon has largely avoided paying the legal and medical bills in these cases, The New York Times reported.
Amazon’s near-total control over delivery providers, however, opens the door for state and federal regulators and lawmakers to hold the Seattle-based company accountable for driver injuries, Frumin said.
Workplace safety regulators have the authority cite an employer for the dangers to employees of another company, if the first employer is found responsible for creating the danger, Washington Labor and Industries spokesman Tim Church confirmed.
“More often than not we have used this law to quote employers in the construction industry because general contractors control the entire construction project no matter who the employee works for,” Church said in an e- mail.
Amazon’s rules govern everything from drivers’ social media presence and body odor to how many packages they’re supposed to deliver and in what order. Drivers wear Amazon uniforms, drive vans with the Amazon logo on them, and are directed on their route by Amazon’s proprietary mapping software.
Church declined to say whether the agency plans to open an investigation into the injuries among Amazon contractors. Washington Labor and Industries previously cited three Amazon delivery providers for security breaches, most recently in 2019. None of these citations resulted in a fine.