One of the few companies where profits are under management control Credit, Amazon logo

Amazon has been shamed by being named the top killer among the employers listed as the Dirty Dozen. The actual shame here being that the people compiling the list don’t seem to be able to count. Not well enough to understand the most basic statistics about death rates at least.

But, you know, anything to get a headline:

Amazon has been singled out in a new report for workplace safety.

The company was one of the “dirty dozen'” on a list composed by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a private nonprofit worker advocacy group.

Well, yes, about that private non-profit bit. They’re an advocacy group for a bigger budget for the people who work in OSHA more than anything else. Wouldn’t be surprised at all to find that it’s a front organisation for a union:

During that same five-year period, the budget for the U.S.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration has declined by $12 million.
Deeper cuts to the agency’s budget and other safety programs were proposed for FY 2017
and 2018. After sustained and targeted advocacy by National COSH, local COSH groups,
unions, worker centers and allies, however, a bipartisan majority in Congress agreed to
avoid drastic cuts and maintain level funding for OSHA, the National Institute for
Occupational Safety and Health, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, and OSHA’s Susan
Harwood Training Grant Program.

Sure sounds like a front for the bureaucracy to me.

But on to their claim about Amazon:

But Amazon and Tesla are apparently death cults. By which, of course, I mean it’s apparently really dangerous to work there. Like… really bad.

In a new report from the advocacy group the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, has listed both of the companies on their “Dirty Dozen,” a list of the most dangerous places to work in the US.

The report stated that both companies reported high injury rates as well as a persistent stubbornness when addressing problems. The companies also struggled to manage unnecessary risks. Amazon alone as had seven workers die in its warehouses over the past few years. The main cause? A “relentless demand” to fill orders, regardless of working conditions.

Well, hmm, injury rates you say? Death rates? Rates?

Why do we all feel that this is going to turn out like that Apple and suicide thing in China? Where the suicide rate at those Apple factories (actually, Foxconn, producing for Apple) were lower than in the country of China as a whole? Ah, yes, that’s right, we feel it’s going to be like that because we’re sensible and reasonable people who can spot dangly bits a mile off.

The report itself:

The “Dirty Dozen” for 2018 are:

Amazon – Seattle, Washington: Seven workers killed at Amazon warehouses since 2013 – including three workers within five weeks at three separate locations in 2017.

OK, what’s the number of people working in Amazon warehouses in the US? Not sure how accurate this is but 90,000 say?

Amazon now has about 80,000 robots at work in 25 of its fulfillment centers worldwide. But the rate at which Amazon hires humans has not slowed. About 90,000 full-time employees work in Amazon fulfillment centers, and the company plans to hire around 40,000 additional full-time workers this year.

What the heck, let’s just call that 100,000 shall we? To make the math easy? Note that we’ve not attempted to divide into US and non-US here, so we know this is wrong. But the result will still be interesting, I assure you.

What’s the death rate across all US workplaces? That’s about 3.6 per 100,000. Or, as the report puts it:

Data presented in the National COSH “Dirty Dozen” report show that workplace deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. According to the latest information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,190 deaths from workplace trauma in 2016, an increase of seven percent from 2015 and a 12 percent increase since 2012.

With some 150 million in the private sector workforce that does give us that 3.6/100,000 death rate which is also independently reported.

Ah, but, warehouses! They are more dangerous:

In 2015 (latest statistics), there were 11 fatalities at warehouses and storage facilities. This is down from 17 and 16 in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

The rate of recordable cases of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2016 for warehouses and storage facilities was 5 per 100 fulltime workers, higher than the all-industry average of 3.2/100. In 2016, cases involving days away from work, job restrictions, or transfers (the DART rate) was 3.7/100 for warehouse and storage facility workers, higher than the all-industry average of 1.7/100.

Note that’s the injury, not death, rate there. But it is higher than the economy as a whole.

So, we’ve 100,000 people working in Amazon warehouses, we’ve a death rate of 3.6 or a bit above per 100,000 per year. We’d expect, say, 4 deaths each year in Amazon warehouses.

And what do we have?

AMAZON
Seattle, Washington
●Seven workers killed at Amazon
warehouses since 2013 –
including three workers within five
weeks at three separate locations
in 2017.

7 over 5 years, or 13 fewer deaths than would be expected. Well done here, having a workplace significantly safer than the national average puts you on the list of dirty dozen top killers. Well done there, well done indeed.

Jeez, if only these people could count, eh?

It does, of course, get worse. Of course it does.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,190 people died from workplace trauma
in 2016, a seven percent increase from 2015 and a 12 percent increase over a five-year
period dating back to 2012.

What else happened in that 5 year period? Ah, yes, that’s it, unemployment pretty much disappeared, didn’t it? Actually, the number of people employed went up by about 9%. A larger portion of a growing population were working. That’s gonna have some effect on the number of deaths at work, isn’t it?

Seriously, why is it these people just cannot count?

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5 COMMENTS

  1. “the budget for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has declined by $12 million.”

    Maybe because today’s tools are cheaper? 40 years ago I was paying £30 for my computer memory, since then I’ve slashed my budget to 0.00002p for the same amount. Horrors!!! Something Must Be Done!

  2. I often browse https://flightaware.com/squawks/ which points to reports of airplane mishaps. Each one is a mystery that is relevant, painstakingly studied, and usually solved.

    Recently, Squawks had a transcript of a segment of 60 Minutes reporting on a spate of mishaps at the airline Allegiant and asserting that it was flagrantly and wantonly unsafe: “I’d never book my family on it and neither should you.”

    The same source carried a link to http://visualapproach.io/is-allegiant-a-safe-airline-using-data-to-review-60-minutes-conclusions/ in which a researcher reviewed or inferred the data that 60 Minutes used. His conclusion was that CBS cherry-picked data from a two-year period of its choosing. The airline seems to have gotten more serious about safety since then; the biggest “cause” of the past unsafety was that it was a small airline with a lot of short-haul flights; and there are a dozen small airlines that are in the same neighborhood of unsafety, which in the grand scheme of things, is pretty safe.

    At least, unlike NBC, CBS didn’t resort to using pyrotechnics to deliberately detonate vehicles.