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440 Serious H&S Incidents At Amazon

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

440 SERIOUS HEALTH AND SAFETY INCIDENTS REPORTED AT AMAZON’S UK WAREHOUSES, GMB REVEALS

Amazon warehouse workers suffered fractures, contusions, head injuries and collisions with heavy equipment, GMB investigation shows

More than 440 serious health and safety incidents at Amazon warehouses have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive since 2015/16, a GMB Union investigation has revealed. [1]

According to RIDDOR reports [2], workers have suffered fractures, head injuries, contusions, collisions with heavy equipment - and one report detailed a forklift truck crash caused by a ‘lapse of concentration possibly due to long working hours.’

Copies of investigation reports that were obtained by GMB show that: [See note 3 for more details]

  • A London forklift driver crashed into a column, almost causing a floor to collapse in a ‘lapse of concentration possibly due to long working hours’
  • Dundee staff forced to work in freezing conditions
  • A Leicestershire worker knocked down and wedged under a heavy goods vehicle
  • Complaints Peterbrough delivery drivers forced to wait for 8 to 10 hours in unheated room which ‘needs to be rectified before Amazon is responsible for road accidents.’
  • Complaints Amazon and contractors ‘create an environment of fear to speak out in matters that risk our lives and the lives of the general public on the road’

The responses received by GMB suggest that Amazon could face local authority enforcement action.

One local authority, Central Bedfordshire Council, refused to release copies of correspondence with Amazon on the grounds that: "Disclosing [this] information may prejudice an ongoing investigation and/or future enforcement action."

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

“Amazon bosses are burying their heads in the sand but no amount of spin or an expensive PR agency can get around that fact that these official figures give a horrifying insight into their warehouses - no one should go to work worried about being knocked unconscious or breaking bones.

“Amazon is treating workers like robots, not humans.

 “This is a multi-billion pound company owned by the richest man in the world. You have to ask yourself whether it’s a deliberate decision to sacrifice safety to keep the bottom line growing, because I can’t see why else you’d tolerate these conditions. 

 “Amazon won’t even let GMB Union through their gates, despite the fact we have hundreds of members working inside. If Amazon is so confident they're doing right by their workforce, why are they worried about talking to us? 

“We’d much prefer to be around the negotiating table, but failing that we’ll continue campaign on every possible level to make sure Amazon workers are safe at work and treated with respect.”

Jack Dromey, MP and Shadow Work and Pensions Minister, said:

“A supposed 21st century company, Amazon is guilty of behaving like a 19th century mill owner, putting its workers at risk in pursuit of profit.

“This cannot go on because deaths in Amazon will surely follow.

“Jeff Bezos should hang his head in shame. His company should meet the GMB to sort what is a national scandal.”

ENDS

Contact: GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at press.office@gmb.org.uk

Notes for editors:

[1]

Total number of Amazon RIDDOR reports – details obtained by GMB under the Freedom of Information Act 
Note: the true figure is likely to be higher as not all local authorities provided information

2015/16

 

 

2016/17

 

 

2017/18

 

 

2018/19*

 

 

Total**

 

 

80

 

 

114

 

 

149

 

 

99

 

 

443

 

 


* 2018/19 = the year to August/September 2018. 
** A small number of local authorities reported figures for calendar rather than financial years. In this table, reports for 2015 have been included under 2015/16, with the sample principle applied in subsequent years.

[2] To qualify for a report under the RIDDOR system, an incident must result in a worker either (a) being unable to perform their normal work duties for more than seven days, or (b) a ‘specified injury,’ which includes broken bones, amputations, and loss of consciousness.

 ‘Specified injuries’ are those that result in:

·         fractures, other than to fingers, thumbs and toes

·         amputations

·         any injury likely to lead to permanent loss of sight or reduction in sight

·         any crush injury to the head or torso causing damage to the brain or internal organs

·         serious burns (including scalding) which:

o    covers more than 10% of the body

o    causes significant damage to the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs

·         any scalping requiring hospital treatment

·         any loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia

·         any other injury arising from working in an enclosed space which:

o    leads to hypothermia or heat-induced illness

o    requires resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours


Source – Health and Safety Executive: http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportable-incidents.htm 

[3]

  • In London a forklift driver collided with a column, causing a mezzanine floor to become unsafe in a serious ‘near miss’ incident. The investigation report said the cause was a ‘lapse of concentration possibly due to long working hours.’ The Health and Safety Executive said the Amazon worker who reported the incident gave ‘no contact details for fear of being sacked.
  • Agency workers at Amazon’s Dundee warehouse were working at a temperature of 3°C during the day in the winter of 2016/17 – falling to sub-zero temperatures at night. The HSE advises that warehouses should have an ambient temperature of at least 13°C. The law says that temperatures must be at a ‘reasonable’ level, but the HSE advises that ‘if the work involves rigorous physical effort, the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius.’ http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/law.htm
  • A worker in Leicestershire, suffered internal bruising after being knocked down and wedged under a heavy goods vehicle. The report said the unsafe driving manoeuvre leading to the accident was ‘not an uncommon practice.’
  • In Peterborough a member of the public complained delivery drivers were forced to wait for 8 to 10 hours in an unheated room, and that ‘this is not sustainable and needs to be rectified before Amazon is responsible for road accidents.’
  • A courier driver from Sunderland complained Amazon and its contractors ‘create an environment of fear to speak out in matters that risk our lives and the lives of the general public on the road.’
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