Automation Could Increase Workplace Injury

warehousesWorking with Robots

Amazon warehouses have begun implementing the use of robots to increase efficiency. This has come at an increased price to workers. Robotic technology has often been touted as a futuristic solution in workplaces, one that could eventually replace workers. The benefit is that robots do not take breaks, or idle. Although they are not necessarily replacing human workers in Amazon warehouses, they are increasing injury among workers.[1]

Increased Demand

The warehouse robots are “so efficient” that quotas have increased, requiring workers to fulfill more tasks in the same amount of time. As an example, workers who “grab and scan items” were required to scan four times more items per hour, from 100 to 400. Repetitive motion injuries have increased.[2] During “peak season” and days like Black Friday, or Prime Day, there is added stress and responsibility.[3] Workers are expected to work even harder in an already fast-paced environment.

Safety First

The environment for employees in Amazon warehouses is concerning. In 2019, there was a recorded 7.7 serious injuries among every 100 workers across its fulfillment centers. Amazon has, on the contrary, suggested that their robotic technology has increased safety.[4] This highlights the importance of workers’ compensation laws and increased oversight for the health and safety of employees, through mediums like Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA). As more people have begun using online shopping, it is evident that workers, on a larger scale, need to be given more frequent breaks, continued hydration, proper safety equipment, and more staff to better divide the work amongst themselves. It would also benefit to provide them better education on using company vehicles, as well as frequent inspections of them. Lastly, avoiding shortcuts and keeping clean workspaces is vital.[5]

[1] Peters, Jay. “Internal Documents Show Automated Amazon Warehouses Have Higher Injury Rates.” The Verge, Vox Media, 29 Sept. 2020, www.theverge.com/2020/9/29/21493752/amazon-warehouses-robots-higher-injury-rates-report-reveal.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Palmer, Annie. “Amazon Downplayed Rising Injury Rates at Its Warehouses, Investigation Finds.” CNBC, CNBC LLC., 29 Sept. 2020, www.cnbc.com/2020/09/29/amazon-reportedly-downplayed-rising-injury-rates-at-its-warehouses.html.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Page, Lauryn. “10 Tips to Prevent Workplace Injuries.” Concentra, Concentra, Inc., 29 Jan. 2018, www.concentra.com/resource-center/articles/10-tips-to-prevent-workplace-injuries/.

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