Amazon has rapidly increased its distribution footprint in the greater Philadelphia region over the last few years. The e-commerce giant currently has as many as 57 warehouses and buildings already operational or under construction across the region. In 2020, Amazon doubled down on its expansion plans for Philadelphia, and started hiring tens of thousands of workers for its warehouse network in the metropolitan area.
While this unprecedented hiring spree is welcome for the region’s economy and employment prospects, it also increases the risk of warehouse injuries for the workers. It is vital to assess the impact of Amazon’s footprint in Philadelphia in terms of workplace safety and make sure that the injured workers’ right to compensation is fully protected.
Slip and Fall Injury Risks
Workers operating in the large Amazon warehouses face the risk of injury if they slip or trip on the floor surface, or fall from upper levels, walkways, and docks. Heavy objects falling from an elevated surface can also hit warehouse workers, causing serious injuries.
What Should Employers Do – The employers must keep the warehouse free of clutter and debris. If the hoses or wiring pose a hazard on the walkways or ramps, then protectors should be used to cover the equipment. For drop-offs that are higher than four feet, employers should install railings around the walkways or docks located next to them.
Repetitive Stress Injury Risks
Amazon warehouse workers in Philadelphia are exposed to the risk of repetitive stress injury syndrome and musculoskeletal disorders. Excessive physical exertion and repetitive awkward motions may also cause joint and muscle strains and knee or back injuries. Incorrect lifting practices and ergonomically faulty designs are often the cause of repetitive stress injuries in warehouses.
What Should Employers Do – Employers must inform, educate, and train warehouse workers about correct lifting techniques and ergonomic postures. Amazon and similar other distributors should design the warehouse in a way to reduce manual lifting requirements. Automated lifting devices for heavy equipment should be used where possible to cut down the risk of injuries from overexertion.
Equipment Related Injury Risks
While the use of warehouse equipment, robotics and automation is essential, it also poses the risk of injuries if the equipment is defective or the operator has inadequate training or experience. Forklift accidents lead to thousands of warehouse injuries in Philadelphia and elsewhere year after year. The use of power tools, hand trucks, conveyor belts and compactors can also cause injuries in warehouses.
What Should Employers Do – Employers should put in place appropriate operating procedures and provide the necessary employee training for safe use of equipment. They should also provide protective gear, such as goggles and helmets to minimize the risk of head and eye injuries for potentially hazardous tasks in the warehouse.
Tips for Workers to Stay Safe in the Warehouse
- Review the Training Material: Workers in Philadelphia warehouses should proactively seek equipment certification and formal training to mitigate the risk of workplace injuries. They should carefully review and follow the training material provided by the employer.
- Ask Questions and Clear Doubts: Whenever something in the instruction manual, warning label, or a training program is unclear, workers should feel free to ask questions. They should never proceed with a potentially hazardous task if they have a doubt or confusion.
- Know Your Surroundings: Familiarity with the workplace makes a key difference to employee safety in warehouses. Awareness about the areas where heavy equipment is in use, lighting is low, or objects or obstructions are in the way can help in preventing accidents.
Legal Advice from a Dedicated Workers’ Comp Lawyer in PA
In Pennsylvania, warehouse workers employed by Amazon (or other companies), who suffer injuries while on the job, have a right to obtain worker’s compensation. Robinson Law is a respected workers’ compensation law firm in PA committed to protecting the rights of injured workers. If you get injured on the job with Amazon or another employer, you know who to call.