Last year, a UPS worker fell from a loading dock at a facility in New Hampshire. The accident caused him to break his hip, pelvis, wrist, and elbow. Instead of calling for emergency medical assistance, management carted the injured worker to the parking lot in a package cart and drove him to the hospital. Now, Bloomberg Law reports that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has criticized UPS over its safety procedures.
In its report for the incident, OSHA criticized the management at the New Hampshire facility for failing to call an ambulance for the worker who had “visibly broken bones.” OSHA found that the delay in treatment “increased the likely hood [sic] of further injury, permanent injury or death.”
Does UPS Discourage Reporting Accidents?
Bloomberg reviewed dozens of lawsuits and found a pattern of workers accusing UPS management of seeking retaliation against workers who do report accidents. One Ohio warehouse worker described a “culture of fear” with reporting incidents. UPS denies these accusations and claims to strictly follow reporting requirements.
After examining federal and state lawsuits filed in the last five years, Bloomberg found over 50 cases accusing UPS management of discouraging injury reporting. Notably, the publication failed to find any similar claims involving FedEx and DHL, the two largest competitors to UPS.
Claims Made by Injured UPS Workers
In one California lawsuit, former UPS sorter Shaun Medina alleges that the company denies care for injured workers and threatens them with punishment or termination instead. In Medina’s complaint, he says that he injured his shoulder after hours of unloading 80-pound packages from a UPS vehicle. When he approached management to file an incident report, his supervisor did not want to document the injury. Instead, the suit claims that the supervisor told Medina to drink tea and return to work because “it was costly on UPS to do anything else for him.”
After a month of asking for medical help, Medina received authorization to visit a UPS medical care provider. Here, he received a 20-pound lift restriction. Medina accuses his management of ignoring this restriction and threatening his job.
Another UPS worker, Richard Galvan, is accusing the company of ill-treatment after he slipped and fell from a tractor-trailer. He’s accusing the company of assault, battery, and wrongful termination after he struggled with supervisors to obtain treatment. Galvan worked for UPS for 30 years. The delivery giant denies any wrongdoing.
What Might Motivate an Under Reporting of Injuries?
It might seem predictable that profits might be pushing UPS to under-report worker injuries. After all, the more injuries a company has the more their insurance premiums will increase over time. However, the problems caused by profit concerns are becoming more complicated in the age of Amazon and fast delivery times.
While Amazon is UPS’s largest customer, it’s also shaping up to be the delivery company’s fiercest competitor. Amazon uses UPS to deliver packages while also running a delivery service of its own. Since Amazon uses contractors and gig economy workers who receive fewer legal protections than UPS workers, some experts believe that the delivery company is struggling to keep up with the online retail giant.
“Amazon does many things UPS does not, but one of Amazon’s activities that competes with UPS is package delivery,” said David Michaels, a professor at George Washington University. “Amazon uses contractors and gig economy workers, and of course these workers have much fewer protections. This puts pressure on UPS, which then pressures its workers, because the workers at Amazon are paid less and pushed by algorithm to work more quickly.”