Amazon Third-Party Delivery Driver Injuries Increased 40% in 2021, According to Report

Third-party delivery workers got injured at a rate equivalent to one in five full-time workers, according to government data.
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On the Clock is Motherboard's reporting on the organized labor movement, gig work, automation, and the future of work.

Delivery drivers for third-party companies that contract with Amazon are far more likely to get injured on the job than other delivery drivers or even Amazon’s warehouse workers, despite the company’s previous claims that delivery workers for Amazon are safer than the industry average, according to a recent analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data by the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of four of the country’s biggest labor unions.

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These third-party companies, called Delivery Service Partners or DSPs, contract with Amazon exclusively to deliver packages. Amazon advertises DSPs as a way to quickly set up an independent business and make money, but the company maintains significant control over DSPs. Some DSPs allege that Amazon’s operations and delivery quotas create unsafe working conditions

“Amazon has designed its DSP program such that it can maintain extensive control over DSPs’ operations and employees, yet dodge responsibility for the human toll of its intense productivity demands,” the report says. SOC’s analysis found “that drivers delivering packages for Amazon DSPs were injured at an astounding rate of nearly one injury per five full-time-equivalent workers in 2021 (18.3 per 100 workers)—a nearly 40 percent increase above the previous year’s injury rate.”

The study follows up previous SOC reports on Amazon warehouse facility injuries that was also based on OSHA data, which was independently confirmed by the Washington Post. Data about workers at DSPs is more difficult to analyze than those working full-time for Amazon, because each DSP is a separate limited liability corporation. SOC based its report on 201 DSPs that submitted injury data to OSHA in 2021, which the group says accounts for roughly 10 percent of Amazon’s DSPs in the U.S. The injury rate of 18.3 per 100 full-time worker equivalent hours in 2021 was 38 percent higher than in 2020.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassey has previously stated in shareholder letters that its delivery drivers are marginally safer than the industry average. But SOC contends that data is flawed because it doesn’t include DSPs, which are pushed to deliver up to 400 packages a day at the expense of safety, according to workers.

After publication, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel sent Motherboard the following statement: “This report cherry picks data from less than 10% of our delivery partners to tell an inaccurate and misleading story. Safety is a priority across our network, which is why we’ve rolled out technology like innovative camera systems that have helped lead to an overall reduction in accident rates of nearly 50%, and we’ll keep investing in new safety tools to try and get better every day.”