There are some people who will tell you you basically need to be a robot to work at an Amazon warehouse. The shifts are long, and the standards are exacting. There’s little room for error and barely enough time to take a bathroom break.
The constant pressure to pack and prepare orders for shipment leads to people getting hurt as they fall down ladders or dash behind machinery. The robots used to pick parts of orders in Amazon warehouses contribute significantly to the rates of worker injuries despite claims by the company that their robots help keep their workers safe.
What workplace injury data shows
If one were to rely solely on the reports issued by Amazon, one might imagine that Amazon robots are not just efficient but outright beneficial for worker safety. The professionals running the company’s robotics division talk about the possibility of human harm as though it were a far-flung fantasy.
In reality, the presence of robots in Amazon warehouses has a strong correlation with increased worker injury rates. As recently as 2020 and 2021, two separate studies found that worker injury rates roughly doubled once Amazon introduced robots to specific warehouses.
Even more alarming is the rollout of a new robotic system called Proteus. The company says at first it will just move packages on the shipping docks, but it is intended to directly interact with workers, and its job routes will see it crossing paths with workers far more frequently than the current system allows.
Warehouse employees can’t work with an injury
Whether someone breaks a bone in a fall caused by a robot’s presence in the warehouse or ends up with a traumatic injury, like a brain injury, from direct contact with the robot itself, they will likely struggle to meet the strict performance metrics established for warehouse workers.
A workers’ compensation claim protects someone injured by a warehouse robot in several ways. It will hopefully result in them receiving benefits for both medical care and lost wages. It will also generate a paper trail that requires that the company accommodate them and their injuries.
Identifying and avoiding job hazards can be as helpful to workers in high-risk professions as learning about the basics of workers’ compensation coverage.