Amazon ambulance callouts surge almost 50pc in run up to Black Friday

Ambulance callouts for injuries and other health concerns at Amazon warehouses surged almost 50 per cent in the run up to Black Friday, data shows.

Amazon Fulfillment Centre. Rugeley. 12.8.20127.
Picture by Simon Hadley/ UNP
Simon Hadley Photography - 07774 193699
Amazon Fulfillment Centre. Rugeley. 12.8.20127. Picture by Simon Hadley/ UNP Simon Hadley Photography - 07774 193699

A Freedom of Information request by union GMB obtained monthly data from four ambulance trusts that cover major Amazon sites. Analysis shows that, over a five-year period, November was the worst month for ambulance callouts.

GMB said demand for ambulances grew by 46 per cent between October and November alone as the company piled on the pressure to fulfil orders.

But Amazon, which has a giant fulfilment centre at Rugeley in Staffordshire, has hit back at the data, claiming its critics are using "incomplete information that’s without context and designed to intentionally mislead."

The figures are released as GMB was due to stage protests outside Amazon sites across the UK on Friday.

New accident investigation reports obtained by GMB under FOI showed serious injuries were reported to the Health and Safety Executive in the run-up to Black Friday including injuries to fingers, limbs, back caused by collisions with equipment and repetitive strains at its Coventry fulfilment centre.

In April 2020, a complainant to Sunderland City Council said that as an Amazon driver who raised concerns about Covid restrictions not being followed, they were "verbally threatened and told that I was banned from site potentially making me unemployed."

In 2018, an inspector from West Northamptonshire Council said that despite a number of manual handling injuries at Amazon, it was "difficult to find evidence of training and management outcomes of accident investigations."

GMB is calling on the company to enter into urgent talks to address its health and safety record.

Mick Rix, GMB national officer, said: “While most people enjoy their Black Friday bargains, Amazon workers are being pushed beyond the limits of human endurance.

“Each year, ambulance call outs to Amazon sites rocket as workers desperately race to hit their crushing targets.

“The horrific evidence is here in black and white – ambulance crews are called out to Amazon sites almost 50 per cent more in November.

“Workers are breaking bones, being left in pain at the end of a shift and getting barred from work for raising Covid complaints.

“Amazon can’t deny it any longer. GMB calls on the Health and Safety Executive to investigate these inhumane working practices.

“This company is a pandemic profiteer can afford to do better – it’s time for Amazon sit down with their workers’ union GMB and make Amazon a great, safe place to work. “

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Once again, our critics are using incomplete information that’s without context and designed to intentionally mislead.

"We know we’re not perfect and are continuing to get better every day, but the fact is that Amazon has 40 per cent fewer injuries on average compared to other transportation and warehousing businesses.

"The vast majority of ambulance call outs to our buildings are related to pre-existing conditions, not work-related incidents, and as a responsible employer we will always call an ambulance if someone requires medical attention.

"Rather than arguing with self-interested critics who aren’t interested in facts or progress, we’re going to keep listening to our 55,000 employees, taking their feedback, and working hard to keep investing and improving for the long run.”

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