Over the past five years, several workers were seriously injured or killed in workplace incidents in Amazon warehouses throughout the United States. Now, the e-commerce giant has responded by requiring its workers to wear a “Robotic Tech Vest” to help colleagues and robots better track where they’re working in the facility in an effort to curb injuries.
In 2013, an incident occurred in an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey in which two workers were struck and crushed by forklifts. In another incident in 2014 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, one Amazon warehouse employee struck another with a pallet loader, crushing him behind it. Another incident just last month resulted in several workers being exposed to “bear repellant,” an irritant, after an automated machine struck it.
One investigation in 2018 uncovered various cases of worker injuries that were so severe that they were unable to work and became homeless.
Given the frequency of such incidents, Amazon has begun requiring its warehouse workers to start wearing safety vests in at least 25 of its facilities. The vest features built-in sensors which automatically report a worker’s location to Amazon’s robots so that they can steer around them. Workers were required to manually log their locations in order for robots to avoid them in year’s past.
The use of these high-tech vests is only expected to increase in upcoming years as Amazon replaces more workers with robots. During this most recent holiday season, the company reportedly had record-breaking sales despite hiring far fewer temporary employees than they had in years past.
According to a report published in April by the National Council for Occupational Safety, Amazon is one of the most dangerous workplaces in the country. Workers have complained about being subjected to endless surveillance, being unfairly compensated, having to work long hours and high rates of injuries.
Workers and heavy and fast-moving equipment or machinery such as robots or forklifts are no match for one another. Workers who get struck by these are likely to face career-ending injuries or to be killed. If you or a loved one has been hurt in workplace incidents such as these, you should consult a workers’ compensation attorney who is experienced in securing the compensation that you deserve.