Amazon employed 33% of all U.S. warehouse workers in 2021, but was responsible for 49% of all injuries in the industry, according to a report published Tuesday by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), a coalition of four labor unions.
The SOC, which is made up of Service Employees International Union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Communications Workers of America, and United Farmworkers of America, analyzed 2021 injury data that Amazon submitted to the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In 2021, there were 38,334 total recordable injuries at Amazon facilities, and among those, roughly 34,000 were considered serious injuries where the workers could no longer perform their regular jobs or had to miss work as a result.
According to the report, Amazon reported 6.8 serious injuries for every 100 of its warehouse workers. By comparison, other warehouses reported 3.3 serious injuries for every 100 workers, the report said. The injury rates are calculated as aggregates of rates at individual locations.
The new report, which notes that injury rates remain higher at the company’s robotic warehouses than its non-robotic warehouses, found a notable decline in injuries in 2020 compared to the year prior. The report notes Amazon’s temporary easing of productivity tracking in the earlier months of the pandemic as a possible contributor.
In a statement regarding the SOC report, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said the company has hired “tens of thousands of additional people to help us meet the unforeseen demand from Covid-19.”
“Like other companies in the industry, we saw an increase in recordable injuries during this time from 2020 to 2021 as we trained so many new people – however, when you compare 2021 to 2019, our recordable injury rate declined more than 13% year over year, “said Nantel.
The SOC report shows that the injury rate last year is the second-highest in the company’s past five years, with the year 2019 recording the highest rate.
“While we still have more work to do and will not be satisfied until we are excellent when it comes to safety, we continue to make measurable improvements in reducing injuries and keeping employees safe, and appreciate the work from all of our employees and safety teams who are contributing to this effort, “said Nantel.