In recent years, Amazon has come under fire for unsafe working conditions and unrealistic quotas. Now, it seems they’re trying to apply their corporate approach to workplace injury prevention.
By the end of the year, Amazon plans to roll out the WorkingWell program. This program aims to support employees through physical, mental and nutritional support. According to CNBC, “it could be the largest experiment in workplace safety culture ever undertaken.”
As Amazon demand and profits continue to soar, the company is constantly having to expand its workforce. The latest mass hiring across the U.S. and Canada added 75,000 workers. During 2020 (fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic), Amazon hired over 500,000 workers—nearly doubling its workforce.
The goal of the WorkingWell program is to reduce the company’s recordable incident rates by 50% by the year 2025. Technically speaking, WorkingWell isn’t a new program. It launched in 2019 and has already been implemented for nearly 900,000 employees across 350 Amazon sites.
In the short term, the goal is to have WorkingWell in 1,000 sites by the end of 2021.
According to Amazon’s vice president of worldwide workplace health and safety, Heather MacDougall, “We want [our employees] to be healthy and safe and feel cared about and proud to work for Amazon.”
Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, has specifically noted the rate of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) reported among Amazon employees. This is a particularly common injury among factory workers, specifically one that is associated with employees who are new on the job.
Nearly 40% of the injuries that occur at Amazon fall under the category of MSD. Included in this category are the sprains and strains that are associated with repetitive motions. Since being rolled out, WorkingWell has helped to reduce the MDS-related injuries by nearly 32%, Bezos noted in a letter.
One way WorkingWell is supposedly reducing MSD injuries is through the practice of ‘Health & Safety Huddles.’ These daily meetings are conducted near workstations where employees watch short videos about the proper ways to grip and handle, push and pull, as well as get general nutrition advice.
Other WorkingWell components include access to 6,000-plus safety coordinators who are certified athletic trainers able to provide employee coaching and ergonomic adjustments at workstations. Additionally, employees receive hourly prompts to participate in mental and physical activities that are intended to help reduce fatigue.
Amazon workers’ compensation requirements
Like any other employer in Arizona, Amazon is required to provide workers’ compensation coverage to full-time, part-time and seasonal employees. In Arizona, workers’ compensation is also a no-fault system, meaning workers’ compensation covers all workers regardless of who is at fault for the injury—unless the employee was under the influence of drugs, alcohol or suffered an intentional injury.
Since Amazon is a private company, they can require you to see a doctor they choose if you’re injured at work; however, they can only require you see the doctor once.
Common Amazon warehouse work injuries
Fortunately, the majority of injuries that occur in warehouses are relatively minor. Examples of such injuries include cuts, scrapes and bruises. That said, warehouse environments and packaging facilities do see higher rates of serious and debilitating repetitive stress injuries, such as:
- Back and neck strain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Broken bones
What to do if you were injured on-the-job
The first thing an injured Amazon employee needs to do after seeking medical attention is to file an injury claim with the company. This is true even of seemingly minor injuries.
Additionally, if the Amazon location has a wellness clinic, injured workers should immediately report to it for documentation. It’s also advisable for injured workers to contact their primary care physician for further documentation. You should explicitly follow all instructions given to you by the clinic and/or your treating physician. The most common reason workers’ comp claims are denied is because of a failure to follow instructions.
If your Amazon location has a wellness clinic, visit the clinic immediately to document any injury you have received. Also, contact your personal doctor to get additional documentation of your injury. Follow the instructions of the clinic and your doctor explicitly. Often, workers’ compensation claims are denied because the employee did not follow instructions and made the injury worse.
In the event that your claim is denied, contact a workers’ compensation attorney near you as soon as possible. This doesn’t mean that you intend to sue your employer (since most workers are prevented from doing so under Arizona workers’ compensation law). Rather, it simply means that you want someone on your side to ensure that you understand the workers’ comp process and that you will receive the compensation that you deserve.
Amazon is the second largest private employer in the country and the most profitable internet company in the world. The company has a well-funded legal department staffed with hundreds of lawyers who are paid to ensure that the company’s legal interests are protected. If you fight them alone, you’ll likely lose.
Luckily, you’re not alone.