In a recent report, NBC News spoke with 18 people across 11 states who had worked for Amazon or for an Amazon-contracted company. Details from the employees reveal a culture of overworking, lax safety practices, and a lack of adequate background checks for delivery drivers. Each worker revealed one common thing: Amazon is sacrificing safety as the demand to deliver more packages quickly increases.
Amazon & Delivery Driver Safety
The NBC report found a pattern of lax practices on behalf of Amazon managers to meet strict and demanding deadlines. In some cases, drivers who did not pass background checks would use badges that didn’t belong to them. So, drivers who failed background checks received sensitive information such as names, addresses, and security codes to homes, buildings, and neighborhoods.
“They would say, ‘OK, get it done,’” one former delivery manager told NBC News. “And as long as it was delivered before deadline that day, that would make their location look amazing, they may turn their head.”
Another former driver confirmed this practice. Despite failing their background check, they would drive under another person’s credentials and log into equipment using a shared password. In another state, one former driver confirmed that Amazon was aware of the practices of their company and ignored them as long as packages were delivered. The practice is continuing; one current Amazon employee said the company was aware of a contractor’s failure to comply with background checks and ignored it. As long as packages are delivered on time, workers say Amazon is willing to overlook lapses in safety from delivery drivers and companies.
How Many Accidents Are Amazon Delivery Vehicles Involved With?
Amazon relies on a sprawling network of warehouses and delivery drivers—both Amazon workers and contracted drivers—to meet its strict delivery demands. After all, the retail giant has amassed a following thanks to its two-day delivery promises. In some large cities, this delivery window has been hacked down to the same day an order is placed. As the company makes increased promises, the toll on workers has proven to be dangerous.
One report from ProPublica and The New York Times researched serious accidents involving drivers delivering Amazon packages. The report found more than 60 crashes that caused serious injuries since June of 2015. It also found that at least ten people lost their lives in these accidents. Notably, the authors of the report believe this only a fraction of serious accidents involving Amazon delivery vehicles because of a lack of lawsuits on the part of accident survivors. To make matters worse, Amazon has avoided legal liability despite having a significant amount of control over the operations of contractors. Instead, contractors have suffered the most legal consequences issues caused while delivering for Amazon.
Amazon’s Side of Events
In a comment to NBC News, Amazon maintained the safety of its delivery methods. The company asserted its commitment to safety and its tight control over the practices of contracted delivery companies.
“Amazon operates a safe delivery network and to state otherwise is simply not true. There are tens of thousands of drivers delivering tens of millions of packages to customers every week, almost all without incident. Unfortunately, statistically at this scale, traffic incidents have occurred and will occur again, but these are exceptions, and we will not be satisfied until we achieve zero incidents across our delivery operations,” Amazon said.
Former and current drivers disagree with Amazon’s claims of being committed to safety. Some report practices such as running stop signs, throwing packages, and speeding to make sure they deliver packages as fast as possible. Some drivers also report that they and their coworkers would skip lunch and urinate into bottles to save every second possible.
“Those are close calls every single day, worrying you're going to hit a car or a person,” said Ami Swerdlick, a former contracted delivery driver with Amazon. “It was going to kill me if I didn’t stop doing it.”