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Amazon’s move to lower employee injury rates

Jacob Smith, McGinley Solicitors

Workers for the world’s biggest online retailer should be better protected in the future after Amazon announced that it is taking a new approach to looking after their employees’ health and safety. What changes are they bringing in and how much could they help.

The Background

This initiative comes after Amazon has been widely criticised for its employee injury rates, which increased each year from 2016 to 2019, according to numbers reported by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.  In 2019, the company listed 14,000 serious injuries to workers in its US fulfilment centres, meaning that there were 7.7 injuries for every 100 employees, well above the average for the industry.

Amazon refuted the claims in this report and stated that the numbers don’t fully reflect the situation. Part of the reason they gave was that the numbers refer to any type of injury, rather than just major incidents. The retail giant’s spokesperson pointed out that they work on improving injury prevention, but some sources suggest that workers were discouraged from reporting injuries, meaning that the numbers could be even higher.

What Are the New Measures?

According to Amazon, their new safety measures will help them to cut the number of workplace injuries in half by 2025. This will be done under a new programme, which goes by the name of WorkingWell and will be available for the close to one million workers in their global warehouses. It will include mindful meditation tips and wellness zones.

The press release announcing this move stated that their employees’ health and safety is “Amazon’s top priority”. It went on to confirm that the WorkingWell process will involve “scientifically proven” activities, exercises and healthy habits. However, critics have pointed out that this new set of measures doesn’t appear to address the factor that is viewed by many as the main cause of their injuries.

This is because the key issue in numerous injuries is said to be the speed that workers are asked to operate at. The fact that most injuries occur on the massively popular Prime Day would appear to confirm this link. One of the key elements of the new WorkingWell scheme will be the fact that it asks employees to take short breaks and to stretch, in an attempt to lower the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

Workers can contact personal injury solicitors for any type of workplace accident that causes them an injury. The type of injury doesn’t matter, as the key is in there being some type of employer negligence that can be proven by the solicitor working on the person’s behalf. Therefore, Amazon will be keen to show that they are doing all they can to keep staff safe.

Early signs suggest that the possibility of it making a difference are good. Amazon says muscle strains have been decreased by almost a third in their pilot programmes run in the last year, featuring a health and fitness app for employees. They also state that other wellness initiatives are running at the same time, although no further details have yet been provided on them.

What Does the Future Hold?

Amazon employees may be sceptical about how effective the company’s new wellness scheme will turn out to be. However, it suits the company and its employers to find a suitable way to keep them safe while carrying out their roles. If the new initiative works, it will go a long way to repairing the retailer’s reputation and would boost staff loyalty and morale too.

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