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Huge Amazon warehouse in Texas is more dangerous than working in a psychiatric ward

An Amazon warehouse in Texas is more dangerous than working in a psychiatric ward or a prison, leaked documents reveal.

Log books from the Haslet facility in Texas show injuries increasing from 2017 through 2019. Its Incident Rate (IR) – a measure of injury numbers relative to hours worked at a facility – was 8.15 in 2017, 8.72 the following year and last year 9.59.

To put those numbers in perspective a state psychiatric hospital has an IR of 7.4, a prison 7.3 and an aluminium foundry, 8.5. The report showed that the huge million-square-foot Amazon warehouse in Texas had a greater IR than all three.

In simpler terms around one in ten of the employees at the unit have been injured to the extent it has required reporting to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These are not just scraped knees, the injuries have to meet a level that requires ‘medical treatment beyond first aid,’ Gizmodo reported. 

Amazon previously told the news site that the reason for its high rating was because it took ‘an aggressive stance on recording injuries no matter how big or small.’

However, this would not explain why injuries at Haslet have been rising annually.

The infamous ‘peak season’ in the run-up to the winter holidays took up a third of all injuries at the Texas facility.

The majority of these were recorded as sprains and bruises, but other injuries included heat stress, electric shocks, hernias, crushed hands and feet, concussions, fractures and lacerations. 

It comes as employees at a New York facility called JFK8, on Staten Island claimed Amazon bosses ‘care more about robots than about the employees’.

Jimpat Lacewell, who started working at Amazon in Staten Island in November, quit after three days because it reminded him of prison.

He also said CEO and founder Jeff Bezos could not finish a shift at the warehouse if he took part in the Undercover Boss reality TV show.

Lacewell told the Guardian: ‘I would rather go back to a state correctional facility and work for 18 cents an hour than do that job. I’m sure Mr Bezos couldn’t do a full shift at that place as an undercover boss.’

Rita Cummings, who works as a sorter on the outbound ship dock in three 12-hour shifts every week, has to scan a 1,800 Amazon packages an hour, which works out at around 30 every minute.

She claimed a manager asked if she was ‘sure you can’t see?’ and tried to place her in unsuitable job tasks, despite her visual impairment disability meaning she can only perform certain roles.     

She told the Guardian: ‘I had a manager ask me: are you sure you can’t see?

‘There are days I say I’m just at the mercy of God. There has been no real change. There are still injuries. They were saying the report [into safety] is not accurate, but it’s just a way for them to avoid responsibility.’ 

Some warehouse workers complained of a lack of safety in that some violations were ‘brushed aside’. 

An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement: ‘Like most companies, we have performance expectations for every Amazonian and we measure actual performance against those expectations.’

And on safety, the company said: ‘Any effort to paint our workplaces as unsafe based on the number of injury recordings is misleading given the size of our workforce. 

‘While many companies under-record safety incidents in order to keep their rates low, Amazon does the opposite – we take an aggressive stance on recording injuries no matter how big or small.

‘We believe so strongly in the environment provided for fulfillment center employees, including our safety culture, that we offer public tours where anyone can come see for themselves one of our sites and its working conditions first-hand.’

Last August, Bezos was slammed on social media for throwing a multi-million dollar concert for certain head office employees not long after warehouse workers went on strike over pay and conditions. 

He was spotted partying with celebrities such as Katy Perry and Lil Nas X backstage at Amazon’s Post-Prime Day concert for employees in Seattle.

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