Amazon is a leader in introducing robots into the workplace. The company claims robots speed up production and make human jobs easier and safer. However, interviews and other records suggest that Amazon employees are suffering more injuries and facilities in workplaces with robots.
Reveal gathered internal injury records from 23 of Amazon’s 110 fulfillment centers throughout the country. Reveal found that the rate of serious injuries at the Amazon centers was over twice the national average for the warehousing industry — 9.6 serious injuries per 100 full-time workers in 2018.
Based on the records Reveal obtained, most of the warehouses with the highest rates of injury used robots. A facility with robots in Kent, Washington, logged 292 serious injuries in 2018, around 13 serious injuries per 100 workers. After Amazon introduced robots at a facility in Tracy, California, serious injuries increased four-fold, from 2.9 per 100 workers in 2015 to 11.3 in 2018.
Why is the injury rate higher in fulfillment centers with robots? This is most likely due to the fact that Amazon workers are expected to keep pace with the robots. Moreover, robots can cause accidents. In 2018, a robot punctured a can of bear repellant in a Robbinsville, New Jersey, fulfillment center, sending 24 workers to the hospital.
Injured employees can recover workers’ compensation. Injured workers can have their medical expenses paid and a portion of their lost wages compensated. If an employee can show a manufacturer or designer caused the accident, the employee can file a tort lawsuit and recover all of their lost wages as well as damages for pain and suffering.