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Some Chicago-Area Amazon Warehouse Workers Are Facing a Dangerous — and Potentially Risky — Choice

Amazon is in the news again and it isn’t good news for some of the company’s warehouse workers in the Chicago area, according to groups that advocate on behalf of those workers. Recent reports say that many workers are being presented with a dismal choice: lose their jobs in the middle of this pandemic-fueled recession or else agree to work 10½-hour-long graveyard “megacycle” shifts at a new warehouse. This comes even as past research has shown that longer shifts often can lead to greater health and safety problems for workers. If you’ve been hurt at your warehouse job in or around Chicago, whether or not you were working exceptionally long shifts, you should take the time to contact a knowledgeable Illinois workplace injury attorney to get the legal advice you need.

According to a report from Motherboard, the aforementioned offer came on January 25 to the workers at Amazon’s McKinley Park warehouse known as DCH1. According to the reports, Amazon informed the workers that the company was closing down DCH1, which meant that those workers had two options: accept work at a new Chicago-area warehouse or else be terminated. The catch was, however, that the positions at the new warehouse involved megacycle work, which meant working four days per week, from 1:20 am to 11:50 am.

The situation facing DCH1 warehouse workers isn’t unique. According to the Motherboard report, Amazon “has been quietly transitioning warehouse workers at delivery stations nationwide to the ‘megacycle’ shift in recent months.”

Besides the obvious logistical hurdles this type of work would present to workers with daytime responsibilities at home, such as parents of children completing school remotely, there is another substantial problem, which is the increased risk of injuries.

The damage workers who work extra-long shifts can incur

In the past, health and medical experts including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have noted the multiple health and wellbeing risks that workers who work extra-long shifts face. Back in 2004, the CDC issued a report that cited multiple studies indicating that extra-long shifts increased the risk of many problems, ranging from myocardial infarction to increased use of tobacco and alcohol to decreased alertness.

Beyond those health risks, a big potential problem is workplace injuries. Working megacycle shifts like Amazon’s 10½-hour ones poses an increased risk of both mental and physical fatigue. A study completed by Liberty Mutual found that a worker’s likelihood of injury went up 13% when a worker’s shifts reached 10 hours and 27.5% at 12 hours, according to Safety and Health Magazine.

As the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has noted, these extra-long shifts “have been linked to errors in decision-making and lack of attentiveness.” At a warehouse job, an error in decision-making may mean a mistake that gets someone significantly hurt. A lack of attentiveness may mean doing your job in an ergonomically incorrect way, which can, over time, also result in an injury.

Past injury reports show a significantly higher risk of injury at Amazon warehouses as compared to the rest of the industry. A 2020 National Employment Law Project report indicated that the prevalence of injuries at Amazon warehouses was double that of the industry average.

Have you been hurt at your Amazon warehouse job? Are you unsure where to turn? Get in touch with the experienced Chicago workplace injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Our attorneys have many years of experience providing clients just like you with the beneficial advice and strong advocacy needed to produce positive results. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

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