The 1990s ushered in a digital revolution that suddenly made it possible for larger groups of people to consider freelance, work-from-anywhere jobs. In 1994, Jeff Bezos launched online bookseller Amazon from the garage in his home and would eventually change the way Americans shop forever.
As the economy shifted towards eCommerce and flexible employment models, companies such as Uber and Airbnb followed. This led to the rise of a “gig economy,” centered around a large and widespread workforce of independent contractors who are free from the rigid routine of corporate life.
The gig economy eventually changed the way Amazon operated. With the ever-increasing demand for its products and in need of a way to ship faster, it turned to hiring independent contractors as a solution.
Today, Amazon operates nearly 300 delivery stations nationwide with a goal to have 1500 altogether. Unlike fulfillment centers where products are stored, picked, packed, and loaded onto trucks; delivery stations only transport finished packages to their final destinations.
The company did not initially have the internal infrastructure to handle its one-day shipping promise. As such, it made agreements with hundreds of smaller, third-party delivery companies across the country with employees delivering the packages from these stations.
Although they are contracted through third parties, drivers follow procedures, rules, and work schedules dictated by Amazon. Because of Amazon’s focus on metrics including rate, time-off-task, and total package volume, drivers often face pressure to sacrifice safety for speed.
Whether you are injured as a driver or warehouse worker, a workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to help you navigate the ins and outs of your situation while you focus on recovery.
Common Hardships Faced By Amazon Delivery Drivers
For many drivers, the pressure of expectations causes distractions which make driving more dangerous. Rushing through the workday to fill a delivery quota can cause car accidents, slips, falls, and more. Despite creating a stressful environment, Amazon often does not take responsibility for these accidents.
One such example of a stressful environment would be Amazon’s urine bottle controversy that emerged to public light in late March 2021. After a US State Representative publicly accused Amazon of forcing workers—delivery drivers in particular—to urinate in bottles in an effort to stay on schedule, Amazon tweeted a denial that included the phrase, “you don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”
News site The Intercept later obtained company documents stating that not only is the practice of urinating in bottles widespread at Amazon, but management-level employees frequently reference the topic in official company communications to other employees. Worse yet, a Pittsburgh-area employee provided an email from May 2020 that featured an area manager chastising employees for repeatedly defecating in delivery bags to comply with on-road expectations:
Obviously, these are highly unethical working conditions for any employee. Amazon workers both in and out of fulfillment centers deserve to have their rights protected and upheld.
Injury Rates in Amazon Warehouses
According to the official figures, Amazon, which operates dozens of warehouses around the country, had a serious injury rate of 7.7 per 100 employees in 2019. That added up to over 14,000 injuries nationwide. The average injury rate for companies that are equivalent to Amazon is nearly half that amount or 7,000 overall and 3.5 injuries per every 100 employees.
So, the question is why does Amazon have such high injury rates? This powerhouse company is known for insisting that warehouse employees work at an extremely fast rate of speed. They only have so many minutes to find the next item on their scan gun, forcing them to move quickly. This, as well as the work, which involves a lot of crouching, stretching, and reaching repeatedly throughout a 12-hour shift, tends to lead to plenty of sprains, strains, and other overuse or repetitive motion injuries.
Workers’ Compensation for Amazon Delivery Drivers
More than 75,000 Amazon delivery drivers are contracted to deliver packages, but they are considered independent contractors—not employees. Because Amazon does not directly employ them, these delivery drivers do not have workers’ compensation benefits.
When Amazon delivery drivers have injuries on the job, they can seek help from the third-party company through which they are connected to Amazon. In some cases, these companies may have coverage. In on-the-road cases (car accident, dog bite, etc.) it is a good idea to call the police and obtain a formal record of the incident.
As contractors, Amazon delivery drivers are going to have a tougher time receiving any compensation without paying for workers’ comp premiums on their own. For car accidents, delivery drivers could seek legal action against the other driver who caused the crash. This would be the best way to receive damages.
If you are an Amazon delivery driver and have a workplace accident, proving so will be difficult. You will need to have ample documentation and evidence to support your claim that the injury is work-related. Because these scenarios are as new as the gig economy, hiring a legal representative to handle your case is the best way to go.
Workers’ Compensation for Amazon Warehouse Workers
Amazon warehouse injuries continue to rise every year since 2016. There are those who supposedly pass out, due to overheating while spending hours standing, crouching, and walking around the upper floors of extremely hot, non-climate-controlled warehouses.
The Strategic Organization Center which is a coalition of labor unions came out with a study that showed that out of 100 Amazon workers, 5.9 injuries are reported and that’s 80% higher than non-Amazon warehouse workers. “If you read some of the new reports, you might think we have no care for employees. In those reports, our employees are sometimes accused of being desperate souls and treated as robots. That’s not accurate” – Jeff Bezos.
This year the company is spending additional 300,000 million dollars after spending 1 billion in 2020 to improve workers’ safety initiatives. Their goal is to cut worker injuries by 50% by 2025. Amazon’s productivity quotas put a strain on the workers’ bodies and until that changes, the injuries may not stop happening.
As Amazon operates multiple fulfillment centers in Florida, the Work Injury lawyers are here to help you or your loved one. For more information about if you qualify for workers’ compensation, contact our experienced lawyers today.
A workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to help you navigate the ins and outs of your situation while you focus on recovery. Contact Work Injury Rights today to get started on your case evaluation.