A growing number of advocacy groups have put pressure on large warehouse employers to prioritize worker safety over speed and profits.
There’s no question that warehouse work is physically demanding and potentially dangerous. Injury rates tend to be higher than those found in many other industries, and despite that, progress on safe workplace initiatives is slow going. In recent years, injury numbers have started to trend upwards, indicating trouble ahead for warehouse workers.
If you’ve been hurt while working in a warehouse, you’re not alone. Thousands of employees are hurt on the job every single year, and with the help of a workers’ compensation attorney, you can make sure that you are treated fairly by your employer and their insurance company. At Pisegna & Zimmerman, we are passionate about workers’ rights and making sure that injured employees aren’t taken advantage of by employers. Set up a consultation with our team right now by calling us at 818-888-8888. We offer online Zoom consultations for your convenience and use DocuSign for all document signing, so you don’t need to worry about traveling to us.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains statistics on workplace injuries across industries. Their 2020 data shows that for every 100 full-time employees, there were 4.8 recordable injuries among warehousing and storage workers. This includes 21 fatalities.
What’s the Most Dangerous Place for Warehouse Workers?
While the industry as a whole does have an above-average industry rate, some employers have shockingly high injury rates that have made it difficult to retain employees and avoid scrutiny from lawmakers. One piece of research found that Amazon warehouses in New York had an injury rate of 5.5 per 100 workers in 2020, which increased to nine injuries per 100 workers in 2021. On a national scale during the same time frame, injuries increased from 6.6 per hundred workers to 7.9. These numbers are far higher than industry averages, and some experts believe that this may be a result of the company’s stringent electronic monitoring protocols. These tracking protocols penalize workers for moving too slowly (as perceived by the company), taking breaks, and using the restroom. This type of pressure on employees can force them to do more than they can physically handle, substantially increasing the likelihood of an injury.
California currently has 35 Amazon distribution centers, so many California warehouse workers put themselves at risk every single day. A press release from the Warehouse Worker Resource Center shows that the injury rate was 7.7 per 100 workers in 2020. That already-poor number got even worse in 2021, jumping to 10 injuries per 100 workers.
Continuing Efforts to Improve Workplace Safety
While Amazon and other companies with sizable warehouse workforces continue to tote initiatives that aim to reduce injuries and keep workers safe, current efforts seem to be having little to no effect. A growing number of advocacy groups have put pressure on large warehouse employers to prioritize worker safety over speed and profits.
Another factor that may eventually lead to safer workplaces is the increasing cost of workers’ compensation. When a workplace has such a high rate of injury, their workers’ compensation insurance costs are going to be significantly higher than those of their competitors. As insurance companies begin to penalize warehouse employers for high injury rates, we may begin to see more of a focus on safety initiatives that yield results.
How Warehouse Workers Can Protect Themselves
Until workhouse safety is a priority among executives and management, warehouse workers absolutely must take steps to protect themselves. Safety protocols exist in most warehouses—and should exist in every warehouse—but are not always enforced by speed-centric supervisors and managers. Regardless, employees must take time to follow these procedures, even if it means working at a slightly slower pace. Employees can also report unsafe work environments and procedures to Cal/OSHA and hold employers accountable.
Employees must also be ready to fight for their right to workers’ compensation if they are injured at work. Unfortunately, employers that do not prioritize safety are also likely to discourage workers’ comp claims in an effort to keep costs low. When that happens, it’s time to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer to protect your rights, avoid retaliation, and get the compensation you’re owed.
Choose Pisegna & Zimmerman for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
No matter what type of workplace injury you’ve suffered, the team at Pisegna & Zimmerman is here for you. Our team is ready to meet with you remotely over Zoom and have you sign documents online via DocuSign, so you can stay home and rest while you recover. Set up your consultation right now by calling us at 818-888-8888 or contacting us online.