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Amazon defends warehouse safety following report on injuries

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Sep 30, 2020 - 10:32 AM

WASHINGTON — Amazon on Tuesday defended its warehouse safety record after a news investigation pointed to a higher-than-average injury rate in the company’s massive logistics operations.

A report released by the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal project found Amazon fulfillment centers recorded 14,000 serious injuries in 2019 requiring days off or job restrictions.

The report, citing internal documents, concluded that the overall rate of 7.7 serious injuries per 100 employees was 33 percent higher than in 2016 and nearly double the industry standard.

The Reveal report, based on data from 2016 through 2019 from more than 150 US-based Amazon warehouses, suggested that Amazon’s claims on workplace safety belied the statistics.

The report comes amid a wave of complaints over working conditions at Amazon warehouses, even as the company has touted its hefty investments in workplace safety, stepped up during the coronavirus pandemic.

Responding to the report, Amazon strongly denied misleading the public and claimed Reveal’s interpretation of the data was wrong.

“We strongly refute the claims that we’ve misled anyone. At Amazon, we are known for obsessing over customers — but we also obsess about our employees and their safety,” the company said in an email to AFP.

Amazon said Reveal was “misinformed” regarding a safety metric of the government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The company said there is no industry standard on “serious incident rate,” and that using that metric distorts Amazon’s policy which “encourages someone with any type of injury, for example a small strain or sprain, to stay away from work until they’re better.”

Amazon, which has some 900,000 employees worldwide, in 2020 alone has committed some $1 billion to workplace safety to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

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