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Ambulances called for Amazon workers 600 times in three years

Amazon should be “ashamed” of its poor workplace safety practices, the GMB union said after an investigation found that ambulances were called to the online retailer’s UK warehouses 600 times in the last three years.

Ambulances called for Amazon workers 600 times in three years
Amazon's fulfillment centre in Rugeley | Image credit: ©Bruce Adams / Daily Mail / Bruce Adams/REX/Shutterstock

Freedom of Information requests (FOIs) made by the GMB to ambulance services showed hundreds of callouts had been made from 14 of Amazon’s sites. Patients were taken to hospital in more than half the cases. 

Amazon has denied the claims and a spokesperson said it was “simply not correct to suggest that we have unsafe working conditions based on this data”.

The figures showed there were 115 calls made from the Rugeley fulfilment centre in Staffordshire, including three for major trauma, eight for people who were unconscious, two for electric shocks, and one when a building was on fire. Three related to pregnancy or maternity issues. The most common reasons for ambulance callouts were chest pains (24) and breathing problems (14). About 1,800 people are employed at the Rugeley site. 

In comparison, eight ambulance calls were made over the same period from a nearby Tesco warehouse of a similar size (700,000 sq ft), another FOI request by GMB shows. 

The Amazon spokesperson added: “Requests for ambulance services at our fulfilment centres are predominantly associated with personal health events and are not work related. Nevertheless, ambulance visits at our UK fulfilment centres last year was 0.00001 per worked hour, which is dramatically low.”

The internet retailer was also reported as saying it had 43% fewer injuries than other companies that operate in the transport and warehouse sectors.

In a recent survey of GMB members working at Amazon’s warehouses, the union found 87% said they were in constant or occasional pain due to their workload. The results of the survey will be presented at GMB’s annual congress, which starts today (4 June) in Brighton. 

One pregnant woman complained of having to stand throughout her ten-hour shift, while others said they were treated like robots and slaves. Another employee likened working in an Amazon warehouse to “living in a prison”.  

Mick Rix, GMB national officer, said: “Hundreds of ambulance callouts, pregnant women telling us they are forced to stand for ten hours a day, pick, stow, stretch and bend, pull heavy carts and walk miles – even miscarriages and pregnancy issues at work. 

“I’ve never seen figures like this […] Amazon should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. Companies like Amazon should be treating staff with respect, not treating them like robots.”

 

 

Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

Comments

  • While I agree that more

    Permalink Submitted by Annon on 5 June 2018 - 06:53 pm

    While I agree that more should be done to protect these employees, I can't help thinking what people are expecting from working in a warehouse doing a picking and packing job..... surely you don't expect to be sitting on a chair for your whole shift.... right?

    reply
    • I am sure they didn't expect

      Permalink Submitted by Anonymous on 6 June 2018 - 11:29 am

      I am sure they didn't expect to be sitting on a chair for their shift - but they did expect and are entitled to be treated as human beings and NOT as ROBOTS and SLAVES!

      reply
  • Having worked in a Amazon

    Permalink Submitted by Anon on 6 June 2018 - 03:05 pm

    Having worked in a Amazon fulfilment centre, there are standards to be met and rules to follow. No different to anywhere else. Workers are treated like human beings, you will find it is those who do not want to tow the line who complain about being treated like robots. Shame it is not mentioned about the thousands who enjoy working for Amazon. If they do not like it why are the working there or do Amazon hold guns to their heads?

    reply
    • I work at man 1 F.C. I

      Permalink Submitted by Tony riccio on 9 June 2018 - 05:27 am

      I work at man 1 F.C. I totally agree with what you say . If you don’t like it you are free to leave .

      reply
  • Would love to know how you

    Permalink Submitted by Witheld on 11 June 2018 - 02:20 pm

    Would love to know how you have verified this information as factual rather than just copied and pasted from the Guardians article which is written purely as a way of making money and slandering a company that does more than any other i know to protect employees

    reply

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