Amazon is teaming up with the National Safety Council to design new ways to prevent worksite accidents.
Specifically, they want to reduce "musculoskeletal disorders." MSDs are injuries that affect the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. In the workplace, these conditions arise from routine heavy lifting, daily exposure to whole body vibrations, regular overhead work, chronic flexion (bent) position of the neck, or other repetitive forceful tasks.
Examples of MSDs include sprains, strains, tears, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and hernia.
These types of injuries can often be expensive for employers. They lead to absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased health care, disability, and workers' compensation costs.
The Amazon-NSC partnership is possible due to Amazon's $12 million contribution to NSC. The program will have five key components:
- Establish an advisory council of safety experts, corporations, and researchers to review the most promising approaches to MSD prevention.
- Use artificial intelligence to explore MSD innovations and trends.
- Provide grants to small businesses and universities to fund MSD research.
- Fostering solutions to MSD through innovation competitions.
- Promote the tracking of MSD incidents and risk management practices by individual companies and share this information.
Amazon warehouse workers at higher risk of injury
Amazon is in the midst of a public safety campaign to improve workplace conditions. The company plans to invest $300 million into safety projects in an effort to cut recordable on-the-job injury accidents in half before 2025.
This may be an uphill climb for Amazon, the second largest private sector employer in the U.S. New data shows that Amazon warehouses have a higher rate of serious injury than others.
For every 200,000 hours worked at an Amazon warehouse there were about 5.9 serious incidents reported last year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The national average is less than half that — 3.1 serious cases.
Still, the 5.9 rate is the lowest reported rate of injury for Amazon since 2017.
Workers, union representatives, and OSHA officials say the higher than average injury rate at Amazon is driven by the company's productivity pressure, reports The Washington Post (which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos). Amazon, they say, has unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished by individuals.
Bezos says the company's deadlines are not the problem.
The Amazon-NSC partnership expects to produce novel solutions, but in the meantime warehouses and workplaces across the country will continue with current best MSD-avoiding practices.
Measures to reduce the risk of employee MSDs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include:
- Changing workstation layouts by including things like height-adjustable workbenches and locating tools within short reaching distance
- Providing healthy lifestyle programs in the workplace that reduce weight and improve overall fitness, strength, and flexibility
- Train management and employees in MSD avoidance techniques
- Using appropriate personal protection equipment
- Scheduling breaks for maximum health recovery
Common types of MSDs
MSDs, also known as repetitive motion injuries (sometimes referred to as continuing trauma claims in California), are some of the most common worksite injuries in the U.S. They account for about 30% of all workers' compensation costs, according to OSHA. Some of the most frequent musculoskeletal disorders include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Muscle strains
- Ligament sprains
- Thoracic outlet compression
- Rotator cuff tendonitis
- Radial tunnel syndrome
- Digital neuritis
- Trigger finger/thumb
- De Quervain's syndrome
- Mechanical back syndrome
- Degenerative disc disease
- Ruptured or herniated discs
Workers' compensation claims
Companies have a responsibility to provide employees with a specific degree of safety in the workplace. When they fail or a worker is injured on the job in an accident, employees can apply for California workers' compensation benefits. The program is designed to provide seriously hurt employees with money for injury-related medical expenses, as well as a portion of their regular earnings while they heal.
It sounds simple and straightforward, but California workers' compensation claims are often very complicated. Workers' comp may be a public program, but it's not always easy to access.
Like any insurance provider, workers' comp agents are trained to give you the least amount of money possible for your injuries. If you don't access all the money you are entitled to you may end up paying for expensive treatments out of pocket or falling into debt because you can't work like you used to.
At McLaughlin & Sanchez we don't tolerate the shortchanging of injured workers. Workers' comp should be there for employees when they need it. We fight for you and handle your claim to make sure that promise is kept.
San Diego's trusted law firm
If you or a loved one was injured on the job in the greater San Diego area, you can count on McLaughlin & Sanchez to help you fight for the benefits and compensation you deserve. It doesn't matter in which industry you work — tech, public safety, defense, international trade, research, retail, manufacturing, warehouse shipping — or if you are represented by a union, our law firm offers free case reviews to people who are injured on the job.
During a review, a member of our legal team will listen to what happened to you and how it has changed your life. We can help you understand the value of your claim and whether a workers' compensation claim or personal injury claim is right for your situation.
Call or email McLaughlin & Sanchez for free access to a law firm with more than 30 years of experience with California's legal system and workplace law. Don't wait. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.