Amazon Has Prioritized Profits & Production Over Driver Safety, Study Finds
Driving for online retail giant Amazon can come with high risks, intense pressure, and obscene delivery quotas. That’s injuring a lot of drivers — and it’s largely attributable to Amazon’s own policies and failures, a recently published study reports.
Released by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) in May 2022, The Worst Mile: Production Pressure and the Injury Crisis in Amazon’s Delivery System details how:
Amazon has designed its [delivery service partner] program such that it can maintain extensive control over DSPs’ operations and employees, yet dodge responsibility for the human toll of its intense productivity demands.
Here’s a closer look at Amazon’s delivery policies, systems, and demands and how they reportedly take a “human toll” on the company’s delivery drivers.
Amazon’s Risky & High-Pressure Delivery Policies
Drivers for Amazon’s delivery service partners (DSPs) are contractors who make up about 50% of the company’s delivery workforce. Though contractors, DSP drivers are subject to Amazon policies requiring them to:
- Drive delivery vehicles provided by Amazon: This is required even if it would be safer to drive another type of vehicle in certain areas or on some types of roads.
- Meet excessively high quotas: Amazon sets daily delivery quotas, putting some as high as 350 to 400 packages per day. In some cases, that means working 10 hours straight, without any breaks, and having no more than two minutes to deliver each package — that’s two minutes to get out of the vehicle, get to the door, get back to the vehicle, and get to the next delivery location.
- Get scored on their driving behavior: Amazon requires its DSP drivers to use its Mentor app for real-time tracking of drivers’ behaviors, like eye movements, yawns, and seatbelt use. The company then compares each driver to every other driver, rating everyone with a “score.” Drivers whose scores get too low face termination, putting extra pressure on them while raising the stakes for meeting sky-high quotas.
Amazon’s Failures to Accommodate Delivery Drivers
Along with its policies, requirements, and day-to-day systems, Amazon also “refuses basic accommodations that could help DSP drivers meet its exorbitant delivery quotas safely,” according to the SOC study. A couple of those refusals have come in the form of Amazon refusing to let drivers:
- Operate different vehicles: In some areas, Amazon DSP drivers have made requests to use smaller vehicles because the streets are narrower. Amazon has reportedly refused all of these requests.
- Make judgment calls about their routes, when needed: Amazon’s Rabbit app provides real-time, turn-by-turn directions for delivery drivers, and drivers must follow those directions. In fact, drivers’ requests to modify their routes for things like traffic, construction, and crashes have also been refused by Amazon.
Additionally, the SOC study has pointed out how Amazon refuses “to address the core issue that fuels injuries in its delivery system — abusive delivery production demands.”
How Amazon Policies & Failures Hurt Drivers
Ultimately, Amazon’s policies, schedules, and refusals to accommodate delivery drivers have created “unsafe work conditions” for these workers, SOC researchers say. That has resulted in delivery drivers being pushed to:
- Make an unsafe number of stops during a shift
- Work at dangerous speeds to try to meet quotas
- Put themselves at risk of injury as they hurry to try to meet the demands placed on them
And those conditions are taking a “human toll” in the form of Amazon delivery driver injuries. In fact, the SOC study found that:
- Nearly 20% of Amazon DSP drivers suffered at least one injury in 2021.
- Amazon delivery driver injuries have spiked by more than 38% since 2020.
- Amazon delivery drivers are getting injured twice as often as their industry colleagues who work for other courier and delivery companies.
- Amazon does monitor its DSP drivers closely, meaning the company is or should be aware of the “worsening injury crisis among its delivery system workers.”
- Amazon has misled “its workers, shareholders and the public about the true dangers that Amazon’s operations create in communities across the nation.”
That’s why the SOC report concludes that:
Amazon has shown that it is willing to ignore and deny the continuing and worsening injury crisis among its delivery system workers… 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.
Amazon Delivery Drivers Have Rights
Although Amazon says its DSP drivers are independent contractors:
- These drivers may actually be employees of the company, particularly if Amazon maintains a certain level of control and oversight over drivers’ schedules, routes, and shifts.
- DSP drivers have the right to safe working conditions, regardless of their employment status.
- Amazon delivery drivers may have the right to file a claim if they are hurt as a result of Amazon’s policies, quotas, and/or failures to make certain accommodations.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury while delivering Amazon packages, you can find out more about your rights and potential claim by talking to an Amazon delivery driver accident lawyer. Time to file a case is limited, so the sooner you take action, the sooner you can be on your way to seeking the recovery and justice you may deserve.