A recent national study conducted by the University of Illinois Chicago’s Center for Urban Economic Development has revealed alarming statistics concerning the physical and mental well-being of Amazon warehouse workers in the United States. The study, which collected responses from 1,484 warehouse workers across 451 facilities in 42 states, uncovered disconcerting trends among the company s workforce. Researchers conducted a 98-question online survey between April and August to gather this insightful data.
According to the study, a shocking 69% of the Amazon U.S. warehouse workers surveyed reported taking unpaid time off to recover from pain or exhaustion resulting from their jobs. An even more concerning statistic is that 34% of these workers did so three times or more during the study period, indicating chronic issues of discomfort and fatigue among employees. Beth Gutelius, a leading expert on logistics and warehouse work and the research director at the center, remarked that the data suggests far more widespread occurrences of injury and pain at Amazon.
The survey utilized a targeted approach to reach Amazon employees, with advertisements on Meta Platforms Inc. apps, focusing on individuals who listed Amazon as their employer or resided in areas where the company operated. This comprehensive study was supported by funding from the Ford Foundation, Oxfam America, and the pro-labor nonprofit National Employment Law Project.
In response to the study’s findings, Amazon spokesperson Maureen Lynch Vogel disputed its credibility, asserting that it was merely a survey conducted on social media platforms by groups with ulterior motives. Vogel urged the public to examine Amazon’s annual safety reports submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). She highlighted the improvements in safety rates within Amazon’s facilities, noting that the company’s records surpass the industry average in some aspects. However, Vogel did acknowledge the necessity for further improvements in workplace safety and assured that Amazon is continually investing in enhancing safety across its operations.
This report, regarded as the most extensive academic survey of Amazon workers to date, amplifies the growing scrutiny of the e-commerce giant’s vast logistics operation. Amazon is the second-largest private-sector employer in the United States, trailing only Walmart Inc. The company employs approximately 29% of all warehousing workers in the country, giving it substantial influence over the industry’s working conditions and compensation.
Critics of Amazon argue that the company exerts immense pressure on its employees, demanding strenuous work at a rapid pace, ultimately leading to preventable injuries. State workplace safety regulators in Amazon’s home state of Washington allege a direct link between employee monitoring and discipline and musculoskeletal disorders suffered by its workers. In addition, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations to Amazon for exposing workers to ergonomic risks at multiple facilities nationwide. The study also unearthed the prevalence of work-related mental health issues among Amazon workers. Over half of the surveyed employees reported experiencing burnout, and this percentage increased with job tenure.
The study indicates that 41% of workers reported experiencing injuries while working in Amazon’s warehouses, with this percentage rising to 51% for individuals who have been with the company for more than three years. Researchers suggest that more substantial changes are needed to address the underlying issues affecting the well-being of Amazon’s workforce rather than mere minor adjustments.