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Tom’s Takes: Summer 2023 Safety Insights – Assessing Distribution Industry Workplace Risks

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Volume 2, Issue 5

In this issue of Tom’s Takes, we review some of the top summer of 2023 storylines regarding safety in the distribution industry workplace. Amazon released its second “Delivered with Care Report” in May of 2023. The report focused on the past four years of safety, health, and well-being issues both domestically and globally. Key findings of the report included the following:

  • Since the start of 2019 through 2022, Amazon has increased its workforce by nearly 900,000 associates to over 1,500,000 globally.
  • Its Recordable Incident Rate (RIR) decreased by 24% over the four-year period, with an 11% reduction in 2021-22.
  • Its Lost Time Injury Rate (LTIR) decreased by 54% over the four-year period, with a 14% reduction in 2021-22.
  • Amazon has invested over $1 billion in non-COVID-related safety initiatives between 2019 and 2022, with another $550 million planned for 2023.

Despite these improvements reported by Amazon, an April 2023 report by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), a coalition of three labor unions that represents over 2.5 million workers, reviewed the 2022 data supplied to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) by Amazon and cited the following statistics:

  • In 2022, the Serious Injury Rate, a non-regulatory metric disputed by Amazon, was 6.6 per 100 workers vs. 3.2 for non-Amazon distribution centers. This metric was down 3% from the 2021 calculated rate of 6.8.
  • Despite the reduction in rate from 2021 to 2022, the overall number of injuries increased to 39,000 from 38,000 in its U.S. facilities.  It is important to remember that the number of Amazon workers also increased during this period.
  • In 2022, Amazon was responsible for 53% of all Serious Injuries, despite making up 36% of the overall warehousing industry headcount, per the SOC report.

In mid-July, OSHA announced a national emphasis program to prevent workplace hazards in warehouses, processing facilities distribution centers, and high-risk retail establishments. The three-year program will focus on powered industrial vehicle operations, material handling and storage, walking and working surfaces, means of egress and fire protection. Individual states are required to adopt this plan or develop programs that are minimally equal to the federal model.

Tom’s Take – As the e-commerce leader, Amazon will continue to be the bell-weather company that is benchmarked and scrutinized within the supply chain industry regarding its distribution operations and reporting results.

Distribution-related work is physically demanding, and injuries – whatever metrics are used – will occur. Associates are the most valuable asset of any organization, with the health and welfare of the staff an absolute priority. It’s incumbent upon companies to continually evaluate their businesses for operational and safety improvement opportunities, like safe lifting training, job rotation, Lean principals application and forklift safety programs, to help minimize injury occurrences.

In addition, as on-time delivery windows continue to shrink to same day or next day, the implementation of automation and robotics, such as Goods to Person (GTP) or Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), may assist in reducing injury rates in the future.

Learn how enVista can help address key supply chain challenges, such as labor, inventory and growth. Let’s have a conversation.®

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