Despite claiming to prioritize worker safety and touting low injury rates even during high-sales periods, Amazon has put its workers at risk time and time again, a new Reveal News report has found. From refusing to lower production rate quotas that quadrupled after implementing robotic fulfillment centers to ending a contract with a “poor performance” warehouse clinic that recorded higher injury rates, Reveal says the company has “profoundly misled the public and lawmakers” about its worker safety record. With a new cache of internal safety reports, Reveal journalists found injuries peak at fulfillment centers using robot workers and during Prime Day and Cyber Monday sales periods. Though the internal reports detail safety initiatives and pilot projects, one such pilot project was put on hold during Prime Day in 2019.
From 2016 to 2019, none of the safety reports suggested slowing down production and fulfillment quotas even though occupational health studies show high production rates directly impact the number of injuries. “If you’ve got robots that are moving product faster and workers have to then lift or move those products faster, there’ll be increased injuries,” said Kathleen Fagan, a former Occupational Safety and Health Administration medical officer who inspected Amazon warehouses.