Amazon is an online retail company that sells products to consumers, sellers and entrepreneurs. It was founded in 1994 as an online bookselling company. Over 25 years later, it has grown to become an international success that sells and ships millions of items a day to customers all over the world.
With the introduction of Amazon Prime, Amazon continues to increase its customer base. Amazon Prime is an annual subscription service which provides subscribers with perks and savings when they order products or services from Amazon. The exclusive deals include:
- Free delivery
- Free two-day shipping
- Early access to deals and discounts
- Savings on groceries
Since launching in 2005, Amazon Prime membership is over 100 million subscribers. As the membership grows, the need for employees to help process and ship orders grows, too. The free-two-day shipping offered to Prime members also places an urgency on getting purchases to the clients. With the demand to keep up with packaging purchases and shipping out orders, injuries are likely to occur. The fast pace and the stress of keeping productivity up can cause errors and exhaustion that lead to workplace and work-related injuries.
Amazon Warehouse and Workers’ Compensation
Every year, an average of 4.6 million employers suffer an injury at work or during the course of employment. Production and shipping are two industries with significant incidents of workplace injuries that result in injured employees having to miss work. When an employee has an on-the-job injury, they may seek workers’ compensation for their medical expenses and compensation while out from work.
Workers’ compensation provides no-fault insurance benefits to injured workers for expenses arising from the injury as well as a percentage of their normal wages until they are able to return to work. The no-fault aspect of worker’s compensation insurance allows employees to obtain worker’s compensation even if they caused their own work injury.
Although a work injury is a personal injury, the exclusivity clause in the worker’s compensation acts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania provide that workers’ compensation is the sole remedy for benefits. After a work-related injury, the employee must notify their employer of the incident. Employers must have employment insurance coverage on their employees that will compensate an employee’s approved work injury claim.
When an injured worker files a workers’ compensation claim, they may be eligible to receive the following benefits:
- Medical benefits
- Partial disability benefits
- Total disability benefits
- Permanent disability benefits
- Death benefits (claim brought by the spouse or family member of an employee who dies from a work-related injury or illness)
Amazon Warehouse Workplace Hazards
Amazon warehouses are called fulfillment centers. Globally, Amazon has over 250,000 full-time employees working at fulfillment centers. The centers are the location for sorting, packing and shipping customer purchases for delivery. To process customer orders, Amazon uses several types of buildings, including:
- Sortable fulfilment centers
- Non-sortable fulfillment centers
- Sortation centers
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that the warehouse industry has the highest national average rate for warehouse fatality injuries. Not all warehouse injuries are fatal; however, nonfatal injuries can be just as life-altering. Workers in Amazon fulfillment centers may become injured by warehouse hazards such as:
- Misuses of forklifts
- Improper use or maintenance of personal protective equipment
- Inadequate fire safety protections
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Improper stacking of products
The knee is the largest joint in the body. It carries stress and force that is several times a person’s body weight. Standing, squatting, lifting and walking places weight on the knees throughout the day. The knee also bears the tension from bending and twisting it in ways that is not meant to move.
Knee injuries at the Amazon fulfillments centers likely occur from the constant moving through the warehouse. Carrying products in and out of the center, lifting boxes and even unexpected falls contribute to the workplace knee injuries. Knee injuries are usually felt or seen by the injured employee immediately after an injury happens. Such injuries include:
- Knee sprains
- Knee strains
- Kneecap fractures
- Knee dislocations
Some work-related knee injuries occur over a long period of time from overuse. Repetitive activities of lifting, carrying and sorting packages put steady pressure on the knees. Several types of overuse injuries can occur during the course of employment, such as:
- Kneecap problems
When Amazon warehouse workers sit or stand for a majority or all of the work shift, the stagnant position can wear on the back. For employees who continuously walk through the fulfillment center carrying merchandise and the weight of the items can put a strain on the upper back. Bending and twisting to reach and lift packages can hurt the lower back. Unfortunately, all of these movements are essential to carry out the duties and tasks the jobs require.
Back injuries are common and can occur in the back muscles, backbone and spinal cord. While working in Amazon fulfillments centers, the workers routinely and repetitively bend over to pick up boxes. They reach to get items as they prepare packages for delivery. Some employees may push through back pain believing it is merely a sign that they are tired from lifting and carrying items for prolonged periods of times. However, back pain can be a sign of something more serious, like an injury. Conditions associated with back pain include:
- Muscle strain or sprain
- Bulging or ruptured discs
- Herniated discs
Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workers’ compensation claims can be complex and time-consuming. The claims process can be overwhelming while you recover from your injury. It is best to contact an experienced worker’s compensation attorney to protect your rights and find out the eligible benefits for your workplace injury.
Petrillo and Goldberg Law, founded in 1993, has over 25 years of handling personal injury, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death and workers’ compensation cases. The law firm primarily serves South Jersey communities as well as the metropolitan area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our attorneys are well-versed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania law and effectively represent clients.
For information or assistance with a claim for compensation, contact us today at (856) 249-9288 for a free consultation or case evaluation. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pennsauken, New Jersey; and Woodbury New Jersey.