According to a report from National Public Radio (NPR), California lawmakers have passed first-in-the-nation legislation focused on improving workplace safety and working conditions in Amazon warehouses. The bill seeks to address the warehouse injury problem by giving employees additional power to challenge their conditions. In this blog post, our Fresno workers’ compensation attorney explains the key things to know about the recent reports for injuries in Amazon warehouses and the California reform bill.
As background, it is important to understand the injury problem in Amazon warehouse locations. The company has publicly admitted that it too is concerned by injuries among its warehouse workers. In the 2020 Letter to Shareholders, Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos noted that the company needed to “invent solutions” to reduce warehouse worker injuries. The letter to shareholders emphasized two key points:
- Nearly half of all workplace injuries reported at Amazon are musculoskeletal disorders—including overexertion injuries and repetitive stress injuries; and
- A disproportionate share of these injuries are suffered by warehouse employees who are in the first six months working with the company.
Musculoskeletal disorders can take a wide range of different forms. Most of these injuries are sprains and strains. They can be extremely painful and can make it difficult (or impossible) for an employee to remain in the workplace. People working in highly physically intensive positions, such as in fast-moving Amazon warehouse facilities, are at an increased risk of suffering musculoskeletal injuries.
California lawmakers and workplace safety advocates have also raised concerns about the conditions in Amazon’s warehouses. There are a number of different health and safety issues that have been highlighted by worker rights organizations. In first-of-its-kind legislation, California lawmakers have passed a bill to give employees additional authority to challenge speed quotas. The goal of the bill is to help reduce the number of work-related injuries. The Wall Street Journal reports that Governor Newsom signed the bill on September 22nd—meaning it will take effect in California
Under the new law (California Assembly Bill 701), Amazon’s productivity demands (speed quotas) cannot take precedence over workplace safety. The bill gives individual workers and groups of employees more legal options to challenge their employer when speed/productivity quotes cross the line and contribute to unsafe working conditions. Additionally, California Assembly Bill 701 also includes provisions that require Amazon to improve corporate transparency regarding speed quota, worker productivity rates, and workplace injuries in its warehouse facilities.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is a skilled, results-focused advocate for clients. If you or your loved one was injured while working in an Amazon warehouse, we are available to help. Give us a call now or connect with us online for a strictly private consultation. Our law firm provides workers’ comp representation throughout Fresno County, including in Fresno, Parlier, Reedley, Clovis, and Kerman.