A More Dangerous Workplace Than Sawmills, Coalmines
December 4, 2019 9:01 AM   Subscribe

“ She started the job in April 2018, and within two months, or nearly 100,000 items, the lifting had destroyed her back. An Amazon-approved doctor said she had bulging discs and diagnosed her with a back sprain, joint inflammation and chronic pain, determining that her injuries were 100% due to her job. She could no longer work at Amazon. Today, she can barely climb stairs. Walking her dog, doing the dishes, getting out of her chair – everything is painful. According to her medical records, her condition is unlikely to improve.” Amazon’s internal injury records expose the true toll of its relentless drive for speed (Reveal) "We already knew that the facility had serious problems with injuries, but what we now know is Amazon is fully aware of these problems” New Report Shows 'Shockingly High' Number Of Injuries At Amazon's Staten Island Warehouse (Gothamist) Amazon’s On-Site Emergency Care Harms Those It’s There To Protect (Intercept)
posted by The Whelk (14 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Someone pointed out somewhere that, at this point, Amazon is best understood as a gigantic economic Rube Goldberg apparatus by which your mouse click produces human suffering.

The products are a side effect. The damage to your local economy is, however, intentional.
posted by uberchet at 9:57 AM on December 4, 2019 [27 favorites]

Now I can shake at my desk. At the homeless shelter I work for. This should be a fun day. *barfs
posted by lextex at 10:00 AM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

I don't really go in for cancel culture, but.... #cancelamazon
posted by GoldenEel at 11:29 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

. for Phillip Lee Terry
posted by Tess of the d'Urkelvilles at 12:41 PM on December 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

i work at a warehouse and lift and stack about 9 metric tons per day. Right now my lower back hurts so much I have to slowly roll myself out of bed in the morning and spend 15 minutes getting my socks, pants and shoes on. The doctor tells me I have to keep walking and being active, and he's right. When I rest for a few hours I end up being completely destroyed, Which is convenient for my employer. But some scientists are now saying that staying active 24 hours a day could be unhealthy in the very long run.
posted by Dumsnill at 1:03 PM on December 4, 2019 [14 favorites]

Substitute “packages” for “toxic waste” and you have the second act of Dark Waters (spoiler?). Amazon is the new DuPont when it comes to willful evilness.
posted by swift at 1:48 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Two Words: CamperForce
posted by sammyo at 3:18 PM on December 4, 2019

I recently started a job as a picker at a fulfillment center for a large online specialty retailer. Let's call them pets.com.
There are indeed quotas for picks/scan per hour. There are a lot of heavy items; dog food, cat litter, etc. My lower back is already suffering, but I'm sure it's not as bad as it for those people on the packing and shipping lines who have their own quotas, and must repetitively lift the boxes that I give to them containing, say, 28 lbs of cat litter *and* 50 lbs of dog food.
I drive around on a scooter, pulling a trailer, filing shipping boxes for 12 hours per shift at least three days a week (It's peak season, so there is mandatory overtime).
The comment about the Rube Goldberg machine by uberchet above seems accurate in this case. The machine is very efficient at coordinating the operation. The vast rows and columns (700,000 sq ft, 65 ft high) of items are a database in meatspace.
The retrieval bottleneck is in the interface with the physical space. For these tasks, humans must be used to manipulate matter. We become the useful tools of an emerging intelligence, a role reversal of master and servant.
We work for the machines, for now. Soon the robots take over.
What a strange time to be alive.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 4:29 PM on December 4, 2019 [19 favorites]

Post soundtrack: Fulfilment Centre by Richard Dawson.
posted by Grangousier at 4:48 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

sammyo: "Two Words: CamperForce"

Speaking of camperforce, (and other people balanced precariously on edge of the economy): Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder.
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:08 PM on December 4, 2019

I have been in Safety Management for about five years now (plus another 5ish years doing corporate safety audits) -- all in manufacturing, but it's close enough to distribution/warehousing to have a lot of the same issues. I'll pop back in here tomorrow with more details and opinions, but this is Bad with a capital B.

I noticed starting about six months ago Amazon seem to be on a hiring spree for safety managers at the smaller distribution facilities. I actually applied to a couple of them in my area. I knew a little bit about their poor safety reputation and thought maybe I could "be the change". After learning more, I'm really glad I didn't get anywhere with it. Unless something changes at the top, the local safety managers aren't going to be able to do shit other than get frustrated and leave.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 9:36 PM on December 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

No Amazon for Christmas (burn in hell, Bezos)
posted by blue shadows at 10:50 PM on December 4, 2019

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