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Report: Medical staff for Amazon in Thornton were asked to reduce care for injured employees

Posted at 5:42 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 19:42:50-04

DENVER -- Amazon has been underreporting injuries at its Thornton warehouse, according to a new report spearheaded by reporter Will Evans with Reveal from the Center of Investigative Reporting.

"We were able to get confidential information from Amazon that showed that what they had been saying about safety in their warehouses doesn’t match what the reality is, and what their own data shows," said Evans.

In 2019, internal reports sent to Amazon safety managers across the country highlighted the company’s Thornton location for having high injury rates. Evans says in 2018, there were more than 100 serious injuries. In 2019, nearly 200 injuries.

"I actually ended up talking to three medical providers who worked at a clinic where Amazon was sending its injured workers, and they said they were under pressure to avoid giving proper treatment to those workers in order to keep their injuries off the books," said Evans.

The clinic is Advanced Urgent Care, which states on its website “avoid costly OSHA fines with OSHA sensitive injury care."

Amazon says they never asked Advanced Urgent Care to underreport injuries.

In a statement, Amazon says, “We strongly refute the claims that we’ve misled anyone. At Amazon, we are known for obsessing over customers—but we also obsess about our employees and their safety. Reveal is misinformed and guided by a sense of activism rather than journalism. The reporter is misinterpreting data, and the very internal documents he claims to have obtained ultimately illustrate one thing—we have a deep focus on the safety of our teams. We look at a variety of metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of our safety programs, but Reveal is misinformed regarding an OSHA safety metric that measures days away and restricted or transferred work (known as a DART rate) as something the reporter mistakenly calls a serious incident rate. The reality is that there is no such OSHA or industry “serious incident rate,” and our DART rate is actually supportive of employees as it encourages someone with any type of injury, for example a small strain or sprain, to stay away from work until they’re better. While we often accommodate employees with restrictions so that they can continue to work with full pay and benefits, we don’t believe an employer should be penalized when it encourages an associate to remain away from work if that will better promote their healing. As a company, while we constantly learn and improve from the past, we focus on inventing programs that create a safer work environment, and we provide comprehensive health benefits starting on day one of employment. We continue to see improvements in injury prevention and reduction through programs focused on improved ergonomics, delivering guided physical and wellness exercises, providing mechanical workstation assistance equipment, improving workstation setup and design, forklift telematics, and forklift guardrails to separate equipment from pedestrians—to name a few.”