Washington state regulators received no formal comment from Amazon.com Inc. during public hearings on a proposal to create a new insurance risk category for the e-commerce company’s fast-paced warehouses, in which a higher rate of on-the-job injuries have been reported compared to other warehouses in the state.
The proposal, put forth by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), would raise workers’ compensation insurance premiums for Amazon’s fulfillment centers by 15% next year. The premiums for other Washington warehouses, which are currently in the same risk classification as Amazon, would fall by 20% to reflect the declining rate of injuries they have reported.
The public hearings received seven comments, all of which were in favor of reclassifying Amazon’s fulfillment centers in a risk class of their own.
A recent investigative report found a steadily rising injury rate at Amazon’s U.S. fulfillment centers between 2016 and 2019. The highest rate of reported injuries in 2019 was at a fulfillment center in DuPont, Washington, one of five massive inventory warehouses in the state.
Like warehouses in Washington, common injuries in Amazon’s highly-automated fulfillment centers include overexertion, repetitive motion, slips and falls and being struck by an object. The difference is that they occur at a higher rate in Amazon facilities.
L&I, which administers workers’ comp claims in Washington, is expected to make a decision on the proposed risk classification on Nov. 30.
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