TRACY, Calif. — Cyber Monday is the last of the major shopping days after Thanksgiving, raking in tens of millions of dollars for businesses across the country. One of those businesses happens to be the world’s leading online retailer Amazon, which has multiple fulfillment centers in Northern California.
The center in Tracy was fully staffed and buzzing Monday when ABC10’s cameras were there for a tour on their biggest day of the year. “This is our Super Bowl,” said Molly Wade, a spokesperson for Amazon.
Wade said Cyber Monday is something the Tracy fulfillment center — with its more than 4,000 full-time employees — has been preparing for since the day after last year’s Cyber Monday.
But that high demand comes with major safety concerns.
The Center for Investigative Reporting tracked down injury numbers for 22 of Amazon's more than 100 facilities nationwide.
They found many of the retailer's warehouses have injury rates exceeding the industry standard, including the facilities in both Tracy and Sacramento. According to CIR’s reporting, the Tracy fulfillment center had at least 434 reported injuries in 2018, the highest amount at the 22 fulfillment centers reported.
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At Sacramento’s fulfillment center, CIR reported there were 389 injuries that same year. In 2017, a worker died at the hospital days after he began vomiting blood inside of the facility.
In an email response to ABC10, Amazon spokesperson Kristen Kish referenced the company’s public tours as an example of its “safety culture.”
“While many companies under-record safety incidents in order to keep their rates low, Amazon does the opposite – we take an aggressive stance on recording injuries no matter how big or small,” Kish said. “We believe so strongly in the environment provided for fulfillment center employees, including our safety culture, that we offer public tours where anyone can come see for themselves one of our sites and its working conditions firsthand.”
ABC10 went on a public tour on Cyber Monday as thousands of workers at the Tracy center worked fast to ship out just a portion of the millions of packages Amazon said it expects to ship out.
Here’s the process as explained by Wade: “The associate gets a message on their screen with the name of the item, the picture of the item and the description. One of our Amazon robotic sorters brings it over, they fill up one of these yellow totes that you see all over the place here until the system tells them to stop.”
Then, the item heads down 20 miles of conveyor belt to be packed up and shipped out.
It’s fast paced and high demand.
ABC10 asked what the company is doing to protect workers.
“That’s one of our number one priorities here in these fulfillment centers, is making sure our associates are safe and happy and able to do their jobs for our customers, we’ve got all kinds of safety protocols in safe and of course, we’re keeping a special eye on them during this very busy holiday season," Wade said.
Wade said the company also has an anonymous tipline where workers can report concerns if they do not feel comfortable reporting it to their managers.
If you're a current or former Amazon employee who has filed an injury report with the company, email ABC10 to share your story.
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