Amazon’s Outsized Role: The Injury Crisis in U.S. Warehouses and a Policy Roadmap to Protect Workers


The rise in e-commerce in recent decades has seen warehouse employment grow rapidly in the U.S. with almost 2 million people now working in warehouses.[i] The biggest warehouse employer, Amazon, is now the second largest private-sector employer in the U.S., relying heavily on Black workers—especially Black women—to power its operations.[ii] High injury rates at Amazon—which now represents 37 percent of all U.S. warehouse employment—have drawn scrutiny from both federal and state regulators.[iii] Nationally, the warehouse industry injury rate is twice that of the private-sector average for all industries and tens of thousands of warehouse workers each year experience serious injuries requiring medical treatment.[iv]

This report aims to shed further light on the injury crisis facing warehouse workers and potential policy solutions by examining data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for employers with the largest warehouses in the U.S. and reviewing the current policy landscape on workplace protections for warehouse workers. We address four main questions:

  1. How do the U.S. employers operating the largest warehouses compare with regard to injuries?
  2. What factors drive warehouse worker injuries at Amazon?
  3. What can be learned from recent state-level policy efforts to address the problem of warehouse worker injuries?
  4. What’s missing from recent state legislation and how can federal and state lawmakers fill in the gaps?

At the end of this report, we offer detailed recommendations for policymakers, calling on Congress to pass a federal Warehouse Worker Protection Act that expands on the existing state models and establishes urgently needed protections for millions of workers.


[i] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, 2022, available at

[ii] Khristopher J. Brooks, Fortune releases list of top 10 biggest U.S. companies, CBS News, June 5, 2023,;, Inc. – Consolidated EE0-1 Report, 2021, It is important to note that Amazon does not include delivery drivers in this “laborers and helpers” category, which Amazon doesn’t consider as employees and employs via intermediaries called Delivery Service Providers (DSPS), or as independent contractors.

[iii] Lauren Rosenblatt, Trial pits Amazon against WA in warehouse worker safety showdown, Seattle Tiimes, July 24, 2023,; Caroline O’Donovan, Regulators struggle to rein in Amazon on safety for warehouse workers, Washington Post, September 18, 2023,

[iv] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, available at:

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About the Authors

Nicole Marquez

Areas of expertise:
  • Community-Based & Movement Lawyering,
  • Immigrants & Work,
  • Unemployment Insurance

Paul K. Sonn

Areas of expertise:
  • Living Wage & Minimum Wage

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