Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) is in the midst of an “escalating injury crisis” among its delivery drivers, with nearly 20% hurt on the job in 2021, up by 40% from 2020, a union-sponsored report finds. Labor advocates, lawmakers, and third-party delivery contractors argue that Amazon subordinates driver safety to an imperative to make delivery increasingly faster, which includes strict production quotas.
The upshot is that Amazon is likely to endure increased regulatory scrutiny, such as from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Additionally, the injury report may give further impetus to union-organizing efforts at Amazon, which are bound to raise costs.
- A union-sponsored study finds high and rising injury rates among Amazon delivery drivers, especially third-party contractors.
- The study cites high delivery quotas as the key factor,
- Amazon disputes the study, claiming that it “cherry picks data.”
The Injury Study
The study in question was conducted by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) and released on May 24, 2022, the day before Amazon’s May 25 annual meeting. The SOC is a coalition of labor unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). It analyzed data submitted by Amazon and its delivery partners to OSHA in 2021.
Launched in 2018, Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner (DSP) Program now includes more than 2,000 third-party contractors in the United States. The SOC report found that these drivers suffer injuries at nearly 2.5 times the rate of the non-Amazon delivery industry. It also found that, in 2021, one in seven Amazon drivers sustained injuries so severe that they either could not perform their regular jobs or had to miss work entirely.
The SOC report found that Amazon’s last-mile delivery stations, the last stop before packages reach customers’ doorsteps, are the “most dangerous” Amazon facilities, with injury rates more than 40% higher than warehouses. The report also cites “unmanageably high quotas” for delivery drivers as a major contributor to high injury rates. It references a lawsuit claiming that Amazon expects drivers to deliver about 350-400 packages per day per van, or a delivery every one to two minutes, without breaks.
Amazon acknowledges that, in 2020, it experienced an increase in recordable injuries among its workforce as it engaged in aggressive hiring when online orders surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it disputes the SOC study’s findings.
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said: “This report cherry picks data from less than 10% of our delivery partners to tell an inaccurate and misleading story. Safety is a priority across our network, which is why we’ve rolled out technology like innovative camera systems that have helped lead to an overall reduction in accident rates of nearly 50%, and we’ll keep investing in new safety tools to try and get better every day.”