Hundreds injured at Amazon warehouses, figures show

Hundreds of people have been seriously injured at Amazon’s UK warehouses over the last three years, new figures have revealed, adding to questions over the company’s safety record.

The numbers, compiled by union GMB, show that 240 reports of serious injury or near misses were sent to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) from Amazon warehouses in the 2019 financial year.

It brings the total to 622 over the last three years.

Only a handful of these were near misses, GMB said.

For injuries to be included in the figures they need to be serious enough to stop someone performing their normal duties for at least seven days, or be on a list including fractures, amputation, crushing, scalping or burning.

In one London warehouse a member of staff was knocked unconscious and stopped breathing after injuring their head, GMB said. In Manchester one worker got caught in a gate and fractured their hand.

The data, acquired by GMB, shows the number of reports to the HSE has increased every year from 152 in the 2017 financial year to 240 in 2019.

However the figures deal with a period during which the number of warehouses run by Amazon more than doubled since, to 22 today from 10 in 2015.

“Amazon are spending millions on PR campaigns trying to persuade people its warehouses are great places to work,” said GMB national officer Mick Rix.

“But the facts are there for all to see – things are getting worse.

“Hundreds of stricken Amazon workers are needing urgent medical attention. Conditions are hellish.

“We’ve tried over and over again to get Amazon to talk to us to try and improve safety for workers. But enough is enough – it’s now time for a full parliamentary inquiry.”

In December, GMB and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) were joined by members of the shadow cabinet for a demonstration outside Amazon’s London offices. The unions and politicians said that Amazon should be paying millions more in taxes, claims denied by the online giant.

The BBC’s Panorama programme on Monday night revealed that a former senior manager of Amazon Web Services always turns off his Alexa device when he wants “a private moment”.

Issues over privacy have troubled the tech giants in recent years, with worries that smart devices are listening to private conversations.

In 2016, US-based researchers found that hackers could steal information such as a child’s date of birth, their gender and their name by hacking into a high-tech stuffed bear.

A spokesman for Amazon said: “Amazon is a safe place to work. Yet again, our critics seem determined to paint a false picture of what it’s like to work for Amazon. They repeat the same sensationalised allegations time and time again.

“Our doors are open to the public, to politicians, and indeed to anyone who truly wants to see the modern, innovate and, most importantly, safe environment we provide to our people.”

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