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Fulfillment Centers Hazardous for Illinois Workers

John Lesaganich May 3, 2018

Many workplaces can be hazardous. Health care and manufacturing workers are among the most frequent victims of workers’ compensation injuries. Another type of workplace that is coming under increased scrutiny by watchdog groups and agencies is the online order fulfillment center — in particular, those owned by Amazon, the 500-pound gorilla of online retailing. Our state is home to five such facilities.

This year, Amazon landed on the “Dirty Dozen” list that the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) issues annually to mark Workers’ Memorial Week. Workers’ Memorial Week honors individuals who were injured, became ill or died on the job. The Dirty Dozen list consists of companies whose workers suffered severe injuries from preventable risks. Usually, companies on the list have been cited multiple times by federal and state safety regulators.

Amazon landed on the list because seven workers were killed at its warehouses over a period spanning four years. This includes three different workers who were killed at three different fulfillment centers over a five-week span in 2017. One of the workers was killed by a vehicle in the parking lot of the Amazon warehouse in Monee, Illinois. National COSH referred to the workplace accidents at Amazon as “a disturbing pattern of preventable deaths.”

The deaths — and other injuries at Amazon facilities — were generally attributed to the pressures put on employees to work at a relentless pace. At the same time, productivity is constantly monitored, so workers are unable to take breaks and must rush to meet their goals. Anyone who has suffered a workplace injury at a fulfillment center — Amazon-owned or otherwise — should seek the advice of a seasoned lawyer.

Source: National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, “The Dirty Dozen 2018: Employers who put workers and communities at risk,” accessed on April 23, 2018