Warehouse Workers Face Hazardous Conditions
As consumers we are spoiled not only by the overabundance of items we can purchase with a mouse click or a screen touch, but also by the speed at which those goods arrive at our doorsteps. That convenience, however, comes with a price that is paid by the warehouse, sorting and fulfilment workers whose job it is to complete thousands of orders at breakneck speed. The currency? Their health—physically and psychologically.
Take Amazon, for example. Statistics show that this company has more than 90,000 full-time employees at its more than 50 fulfillment centers and 20 sorting facilities in the United States. During the holidays, that employment stat can jump by more than 100,000.
Warehouse Workers Face Many Hazards
A five-month investigation published in Britain's The Mirror found that at Amazon, workers must pick an item for packing every 30 seconds during their 10-hour shifts, with their tally clearly displayed. Others must pack 120 items per hour, with supervisors rating their performance and providing reviews. Sitting is strongly discouraged, bathroom breaks are timed.
The author, Alan Selby, who follows a regular exercise routine, wrote, "Despite being a keen marathon runner, the physical effort left me feeling dizzy, and I worried I might keel over if I kept pushing myself as hard as I needed to meet my targets."
These circumstances are not unique to Amazon facilities in the U.K. In 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Amazon for not reporting workplace injuries and not supplying protective equipment to workers exposed to a wide variety of dangers, including amputation. In addition, according to OSHA, Amazon workers were exposed to cumulative trauma from repeated bending as well as a stressful work environment.
It's not unusual for those who work at Amazon's fulfillment centers to cover more than 10 miles a day, walking and climbing up and down stairs to "pick" items ordered by customers, all the time worrying if they are meeting their "target" so they won't get written up by their supervisors.
Common Injuries in Warehouses
Attempting to meet the demands of this job can lead to heat exhaustion, chest pains and cardiac problems. Then, of course, the repetitive nature of the industry—lifting, straining, bending and twisting-- leads to a wide variety of musculoskeletal injuries involving the neck, back, knees and shoulders.
"Many retailers with online sorting, packing and distribution hubs also present hazardous conditions," says Workers' Compensation attorney Steve Scardino, a partner in the law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP (GEK).
"The fact is, the warehouse industry is a dangerous one, particularly when you include equipment-related injuries. We see it every day in our practice.
The Inland Empire is Meeting the Needs of the Warehouse Industry
"In the Inland Empire [IE], one of the fastest-growing job sectors has been the logistics industry—truck drivers, inventory managers and warehouse workers serving the ever-expanding global economy in our present-day retail revolution. We serve these workers through education and legal representation from our office in Ontario, and are committed to fighting to ensure they receive the full range of benefits to which they are entitled.
"We live in an era that demands maximum productivity, but not at the cost of workers' health and welfare."
If you would like to speak with a Workers' Compensation attorney at GEK about your legal options, please call 213-739-7000 or click here.