How Amazon’s Aggressive Demands Have Sparked More Driver Injuries Than Ever Before
Nearly 20% of the drivers for Amazon’s delivery service partners (DSPs) were hurt on the job in 2021, according to a groundbreaking report. That represents a 38% increase, when compared to 2020, and it means that Amazon DSP drivers face some of the highest accident and injury rates across the company and the entire delivery industry.
Here’s a closer look at some key findings of this report and why there have been so many more Amazon delivery driver injuries recently.
Why Have Amazon Delivery Driver Injuries Surged?
Several factors have led to the disturbing spike in Amazon DSP driver injuries, researchers say. In fact, they point to:
- Amazon’s delivery quotas and schedules: Every day, Amazon DSP drivers are generally required to deliver hundreds of packages. Some reports note that delivery quotas could be as high as 400 packages a day. That would literally give drivers a couple of minutes, at most, to deliver a package and get to their next stop.
- Amazon’s policies for delivery drivers: Amazon policies state that DSP drivers can be terminated for failing to meet quotas and delivery schedules. That extra level of pressure has heighted the stress put on these delivery drivers, compelling some to rush while subjecting them to “unsafe work conditions,” researchers say.
- Amazon’s failures to make certain accommodations: Beyond “unmanageably high quotas” and fears of losing their jobs if they don’t meet those quotas, DSP drivers also have little to no room to choose how they make their deliveries. In fact, Amazon delivery drivers are required to follow routes set by the company’s systems — and drivers are NOT allowed to alter their routes, even if there’s a faster, safer way to get to their destination. Additionally, Amazon has reportedly failed to provide narrower vehicles for some DSP drivers in places like Portland, where the roads are narrower and more difficult to safely navigate in bigger delivery vans.
For these and other reasons, Amazon DSP drivers often:
- Feel pressure “to move at unsafe speeds in order to complete their delivery quotas”
- Report experiencing more injuries due to the “intense production pressure” placed on them by Amazon
- “Are forced to sacrifice their health and safety in order to keep their jobs”
These issues likely came to a head in recent years due to the pandemic and a greater reliance on online retailers like Amazon.
Did Amazon Know About Rising DSP Driver Injuries?
There seems to be plenty of indications that Amazon knew about — or should have been aware of — the sharp increases in delivery driver injuries last year. Some evidence suggesting that includes:
- The level of oversight Amazon has over its drivers: Amazon uses apps and devices to monitor deliveries and driver behaviors in real time, including things like seatbelt use, speeding, yawning, and running red lights. That gives Amazon eyes on exactly how fast drivers have to move to stick to delivery quotas — and how the stress of delivery demands impacts safety.
- Rising workers’ compensation claims: Pinnacol Assurance, one of the main providers of workers’ compensation insurance in Colorado, has reported that “Amazon DSP drivers experienced ‘slip and fall’ and animal-related injuries more commonly than other delivery drivers in Colorado.” The insurance company also noted that this high injury rate “is expected among employees who handle as many packages per day as Amazon drivers” and that “feeling hurried and rushing is a hazard in any work environment… especially [for DSP drivers] who must complete many stops every shift.”
That’s why researchers allege that Amazon has been “ignoring evidence that production pressure is causing both dangerous driving and driver injuries.”
How & Why Amazon Has Overlooked & Underreported Driver Injuries
If you took Amazon at their word on delivery driver safety, you could be buying into claims that are “seriously misleading,” according to researchers. In fact:
- Amazon claims to have spent $300 million on worker safety initiatives in 2021.
- As recently as April 2022, Amazon’s CEO Andy Jassy told shareholders that “our recordable incident rates were… a little lower than the average of our courier and delivery peers… but we don’t seek to be average. We want to be best in class.”
Those don’t really paint an accurate picture of the risks and injuries that are really occurring, the latest findings reveal. That’s because:
- In 2021, the same year Amazon claims to have spent $300 million on delivery system safety, DSP driver injuries surged nearly 40%.
- Amazon cited data that “clearly exclude[s] a massive segment of its delivery operations — its subcontracted delivery drivers.” Leaving DSP drivers out of its injury data means that Amazon isn’t reporting injuries that affect drivers who comprise “about half of the [company’s] workforce.”
Consequently, Amazon is being called out for its “choice not to disclose injury data for a large and dangerous segment of its delivery system” in an effort to “artificially [lower] its injury rates and [obscure] an apples-to-apples comparison of the company’s performance with those of its industry peers.”
Taking this one step further, researchers have asserted that:
[Amazon is] willing to ignore and deny the continuing and worsening injury crisis among its delivery system workers, despite their crucial role in the company‘s growth through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Amazon will continue to squeeze its workers, and will continue to downplay its worker injuries, unless it is forced to take meaningful action to make its workplaces safer.
Hurt While Working as an Amazon Delivery Driver?
You may have a claim and various options for pursuing recovery and justice. The truth is that injured Amazon delivery drivers don’t always have an easy time securing the compensation they deserve — even when there’s a pretty clear-cut case of fault and damages. That’s why it’s essential to learn more about your rights, a potential claim, and how an Amazon delivery driver accident lawyer can help you.