The GMB has highlighted recent Amazon safety incidents and accused the company of treating its UK warehouse workers like ‘robots’ after it published a series of figures relating to health and safety.
The trade union said figures show more than 440 serious incidents have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive since 2015.
According to the GMB, there were 80 RIDDOR reports in 2015/16, 114 in 2016/17, 149 in 2017/18 and 99 in 2018/19 – making a total of 443.
The GMB’s General Secretary, Tim Roache said the figures “give a horrifying insight into their warehouses”.
“Amazon is treating workers like robots, not humans,” added Mr Roache. “This is a multi-billion-pound company owned by the richest man in the world. You have to ask yourself whether it’s a deliberate decision to sacrifice safety to keep the bottom line growing, because I can’t see why else you’d tolerate these conditions.”
The statement referenced reports the union had acquired which highlighted several key incidents over the last few years, including:
- A London forklift driver crashing into a column, almost causing a floor to collapse;
- Dundee staff being forced to work in freezing conditions;
- A Leicestershire worker being knocked down and wedged under a heavy goods vehicle;
- Complaints that Peterborough delivery drivers were forced to wait for eight to 10 hours in unheated room;
- Complaints that Amazon and contractors ‘create an environment of fear to speak out in matters that risk lives and the lives on the road’.
Labour’s Shadow Works and Pensions Secretary, Jack Dromey, said the online shopping giant is “guilty of behaving like a 19th century mill owner” and putting “workers at risk in pursuit of profit”.
“Jeff Bozos should hang his head in shame,” added Mr Dromey. “His company should meet the GMB to sort what is a national scandal.”
Speaking at Safety and Health Expo 2016, Amazon’s Director of EU EHS, Graham Finn, said Amazon wanted to be “the best place to work for all skills and expertise levels”.
“We insist on high safety standards and we automise wherever possible,” he stated.
Mr Finn added the company invested extensively in risk-reduction technology such as vehicle wheel locks, and was “passionate about housekeeping” with daily auditing and significant investment in training.
In a statement, Amazon said it had eight warehouses or ‘fulfilment centres’ in the UK in 2015 and today there are 17.
It added according to RIDDOR, Amazon has 43% fewer injuries on average than other transportation and warehousing companies in the UK.
“Amazon is a safe place to work and reports to the contrary are simply wrong,” the statement adds.
“Amazon has created more than 25,000 good jobs with good pay and benefits across Britain and we are proud of the work they do on behalf of customers every day.
“Safety is one of the reasons LinkedIn recently ranked Amazon #7 on its UK Top Companies list.
“We encourage you to compare our pay, benefits, and working conditions to others and come see for yourself on one of the public tours we offer every day at our centres across the UK.”