Injuries at Amazon warehouses and logistics facilities in New York climbed 64% in 2021 over the previous year as the company continues to expand its footprint in the state, a new analysis by the National Employment Law Project found. In 2020, Amazon facilities in New York saw an injury rate of 5.5 injuries per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, and that rate rose to 9.0 injuries per 100 FTEs in 2021.
The increase follows a national trend – Amazon’s injury rates across the country rose 20% in 2021, but the increase is even steeper in New York. And it’s not just the pace of increase where New York stands out. NELP’s analysis, which relies on data that Amazon self-reports to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, found that the rate of injuries at Amazon’s New York facilities in 2021 was higher than Amazon’s overall injury rate in the United States that year.
Overall across the country, Amazon’s injury rate is higher than non-Amazon warehouses, according to another analysis of OSHA data by a coalition of labor unions called the Strategic Organizing Center. The vast majority of injuries – recorded nationwide and in New York specifically – were identified as “serious injuries,” meaning they kept employees from continuing their normal job duties or caused them to miss work. “The vast majority of these injuries are musculoskeletal injuries, repetitive strain injuries from lifting repeatedly at an excessively rapid pace over a long period of time,” said Irene Tung, a senior researcher and policy analyst at NELP and the author of the organization’s new report. “Those are serious and often disabling injuries that can stay with workers for their entire lives.”
Amazon did not comment on why injury rates at its New York facilities might be higher than in other parts of the country. “We hired tens of thousands of additional people to help us meet the unforeseen demand from COVID-19 and people turning to Amazon to help them safely get products and supplies during the pandemic. Like other companies in the industry, we saw an increase in recordable injuries during this time from 2020 to 2021 as we trained so many new people,” spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in an emailed statement. “While we still have more work to do and won’t be satisfied until we are excellent when it comes to safety, we continue to make measurable improvements in reducing injuries and keeping employees safe.”
Nantel also noted that data shows injury rates in 2021 were lower than they were in 2019. In 2019, the nationwide injury rate at Amazon was 9.0 per 100 FTEs; in 2020, it decreased to 6.6 per 100 FTEs; and in 2021, it rose again to 7.9 per 100 FTEs.