According to an investigation co-published by ProPublica and The New York Times into the safety of Amazon's delivery network, there have been at least 60 related accidents that resulted in serious injuries since June 2015. And those are only the ones reporters could find, as Amazon is not always mentioned in legal documents, and there are likely many more that were not unearthed. Thanks to agreements signed by the private companies and contractors who enter the non-stop delivery workflow, Amazon assumes little responsibility for any of it.
Of the 60 accidents mentioned, 10 of those ended in death, which is specifically mentioned in Amazon's paperwork for its delivery services and workers. According to an Amazon operations manager, the agreements cover "all loss or damage to personal property or bodily harm including death.” The "delivery service partners" assume all liability and responsibility for legal costs. When Amazon is included in a crash-related lawsuit, and those involved do not front the cost, Amazon has sued back in some situations.
That Amazon shields itself from legal trouble and costs is only part of the situation. The control and pressure and two-, and now one-day delivery times is the other part. Amazon keeps strict standards for its delivery schedules, as we saw in a recent CNBC feature, and if anything is missed or late, there is a low margin for error before these contractors will no longer be allowed to participate.
Worsening the pressure, the usage of these types of contract workers is quickly increasing, as Amazon continues to search for total independence rather than relying on traditional companies such as the United States Postal Service. Amazon declined to comment on several parts of this story, but it released a responding statement:
“The assertions do not provide an accurate representation of Amazon’s commitment to safety and all the measures we take to ensure millions of packages are delivered to customers without incident. Whether it’s state-of-the art telemetrics and advanced safety technology in last-mile vans, driver safety training programs, or continuous improvements within our mapping and routing technology, we have invested tens of millions of dollars in safety mechanisms across our network, and regularly communicate safety best practices to drivers. We are committed to greater investments and management focus to continuously improve our safety performance.”
Amazon also reached out to Autoblog with an additional statement noting that "We require that all delivery service partners maintain comprehensive insurance, including auto liability so if in the rare case an accident does occur, this is coverage for all involved."
For more details and information about Amazon's delivery practices and how it saves money and avoids responsibility, read the full report at ProPublica.