Amazon is bigger than ever. They now have around 560,000 employees and use robots to carry out work that used to be completed by humans. At their West Deptford, New Jersey fulfillment center, small robots can carry 1,250 pounds at a time, and they move at five feet per second. Employees that share the workspace are not permitted to bring loose change, keys, or cell phones with them. This Amazon center is the fourth in New Jersey, and they have similar ones in Sacramaento, Houston, and Salt Lake City. A manager stated that the robots perform more monotonous work, freeing up employees to do other work.
Processes for receiving, packing, and shipping Amazon items at the West Deptford location are fairly routine, and employees are getting used to working alongside the robots. Items come in to the facility on a conveyor belt, which takes them up to the second floor. Here, employees scan the products and place them onto a robot that is full of compartments and acts as a traveling shelf.
The robots transport the goods to other employees, who scan each item and place them in containers on another conveyor belt. Next, the containers travel to the packing area, where they are arranged in cardboard boxes for shipment to customers. Employees prepare the boxes, which are then scanned by machines that add the final shipping labels.
Even though Amazon maintains that employees are safe and the use of robots will not affect how many humans are employed, some data challenges this. Since November, six employees lost their lives at Amazon operations and facilities, with a total of 13 since 2013. Critics say that the company has not made a serious effort to resolve employee concerns about overwork, stress, and other issues. Amazon also made the Dirty Dozen list, which is put together by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. This worker advocacy group’s report claims that the company has a disturbing pattern of preventable deaths and has been cited and fined repeatedly.
A recent report by the Brookings Institution found that 36 million workers in this country may face a high risk of having their job security threatened by automation. It went on to say that another 52 million will face medium risk, and that there were no fields that would not be affected. A Chief Technologist at Amazon Robotics stated that the company does not pit human employees against the robots, and that the two work together to complete tasks.
Unsafe working conditions can lead to serious injuries and fatalities, and we can help you obtain the compensation you are entitled for any type of workplace accident or injury. Contact the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Gross & Kenny, LLP for a free case evaluation today. Complete an online form or call us at 267-589-0090. Our Philadelphia office serves clients throughout Pennsylvania.