In May Chloe Roberson of Chattanooga, Tennessee, injured her knee while working her shift at Amazon and she has been out of work since, while fighting with the company for workers’ compensation and paid medical leave.
Roberson, 21, chose to go to the emergency room rather than Amazon’s on-site medical clinic, Amcare, and was referred to a sports medicine doctor who diagnosed her with a dislocated patella (kneecap). Her initial recovery was 10 weeks of physical therapy followed by a steroid shot, but she was later scheduled for surgery on 28 October to repair her knee.
“While all of this is going on, I’ve been having to fight Amazon for time off and money,” said Roberson. “They refused workers’ compensation, as I had a dislocated patella when I was 14 years old. I’m 21 now so I don’t see how it’s related.”
Roberson and her wife have struggled to cover bills while recovering from her injury and battling Amazon. “I have not had a single day that I haven’t been an absolute sobbing mess because of the stress Amazon continues to put me through,” added Roberson.
Reports of high injury rates and high turnover rates at Amazon warehouses around the US as a result of immense productivity pressures and quota rates on workers have been documented by numerous media outlets and organizations over the past several years and confirmed by OSHA logs. Amazon shareholders have recently called for an independent safety audit of the company.
A May 2021 report published by the Strategic Organizing Center found Amazon’s injury rates were double the injury rate in the warehousing industry and 80% higher than the industry average for serious injuries in 2020.
Jerald Crowley worked at an Amazon distribution center in Greenville, South Carolina, for six months before he resigned on 3 November due to a wrist injury he sustained on the job, as he is deaf and couldn’t afford to lose use of his hand to communicate in sign language with his children.
His rate for stacking boxes on pallets was 40 boxes an hour, and he cited the rate as the reason for his injury.
“I suffered a high sprain on my right wrist when I was attempting to bring a box in the back of the pallet,” Crowley said. “Their safety rules are that I’m supposed to report it and they will bring it down, but their rate is 40 boxes an hour. I was trying to get credit for the box – if I did not, they could let me go simply because I did not meet the rates, so safety was basically out the window when they chose rates over safety.”
On 1 January 2021, the state of Washington increased workers compensation premiums for Amazon due to higher injury rates at Amazon warehouses compared with other warehouses in the state.
In December 2021, the National Employment Law Project released a report on injury rates at Amazon’s six warehouses in Minnesota, revealing those facilities have injury rates twice as high as rates for other warehouses in the state, and more than four times the average for all industries in the state.
An Amazon spokesperson said in response to the report: “While we know we’re not perfect, this report ignores the perspectives of the vast majority of our employees in Minnesota, who tell us that they’re proud to work at Amazon and feel supported in their roles.”
Mustafa Omar started working at Amazon in 2016, but left in 2017 and returned in 2018, and has worked there for the past three years. He picks and loads items that weigh up to 80lbs, typically working on six or seven different stations. He has experienced back pain due to the repetitive motions and lifting heavy items involved in his job.
In early November 2021, Omar fell back onto a pallet, injuring his back. He flagged down a senior manager to get his station covered so he could go to Amcare. Omar said he felt like he was in trouble when he asked the manager to take him to the clinic, where he was given ice and ibuprofen.
“At this time, I’m thinking ‘oh my God, if I say that I have an injury, that I’ve hurt myself, I might lose my job.’ Because they already instilled fear in me about me being the one that was getting in trouble. I’m thinking about my family, my pregnant wife, my kids, about all the bills that I have and worrying about not being able to work because I’m the breadwinner in my house,” said Omar.
Once at Amcare, he downplayed the pain he was feeling so he would be sent back to work, and continued working for a few weeks while visiting Amcare about twice a day for ice and ibuprofen. Eventually he couldn’t tolerate the pain any longer and visited his own doctor, who recommended physical therapy, pain medication and light duty accommodations.
When he brought his doctor’s forms to Amazon, Omar says he was told he couldn’t attend the recommended physical therapy because it wasn’t approved. He is still waiting to hear back about getting medical treatment approved by Amazon and his workers’ compensation claim approved and paid out.
“I’m still in pain today,” Omar added. “All of us want to come home safely, and when people get injured they should be treated like human beings and taken care of.”
Irene Tung, senior researcher and policy analyst at NELP, and Debbie Berkowitz, worker health and safety director at NELP, coauthors of the report, explained Amazon’s high injury rates are a result of rapid work paces, surveillance and disciplinary systems. They added that workers have to operate under constantly changing rules and metrics, regulatory agencies are underfunded, and worker protections are inadequate.
“None of these measures that Amazon have taken have really got to the core of the problem, which is the excessively rapid work pace and how it’s enforced through their very distinctive disciplinary system that combines intensive electronic surveillance with very frequent discipline and termination. They have not addressed that and that is the fundamental driver of these injuries,” said Tung.
Berkowitz added Amazon’s time-off task disciplinary technology cultivates a climate of fear among workers and drives them to push their bodies in a way that creates high rates of injuries.
“Workers are measured by the second and they’re punished by the second,” said Berkowitz. “It basically creates an environment where if they’re not constantly moving, then they might be fired.”
Several workers who spoke with the Guardian described delays and other obstacles in applying for workers compensation or receiving medical treatment after sustaining an injury on the job at Amazon.
Natalie Monarrez, age 52, has worked as a ship dock worker at Amazon in Staten Island, New York, for about four years. During the pandemic, she lived in her car outside the Amazon warehouse while working a lot of overtime – 12-hour shifts, five to six days a week – as many workers took unpaid leaves in the first few months of the pandemic.
Monarrez said several months into the pandemic, the grueling nature of her job and long hours began taking their toll on her body.
“Swelling in my left ankle had just reached a point where I couldn’t even fit it in a shoe. I had trouble walking. I had trouble standing,” said Monarrez. “As my job is sorting, I have to stand in the same spot for my entire shift. We’re not allowed to sit down and I was lifting heavy packages the entire time and rotating the upper half of my body. But I couldn’t take it anymore and I knew that it was because of work.”
She filed a workers’ compensation claim in August 2020, though she said she received pushback from managers while trying to file the claim until she took off her shoe, showed them her ankle, and insisted on filing the claim and being sent to an Amazon-approved doctor.
Once she filed the claim, Monarrez said she has experienced several problems in contacting Amazon’s workers’ compensation insurer, Sedgwick, to correct her pay above the weekly minimum and getting medical treatments and a medical boot for her ankle approved. She took a couple months off work, but returned to work because the compensation she was receiving, about $400 a week, was much lower than her usual weekly paychecks.
“At this point, I went to Walmart and Target and I literally bought my own braces for my ankle and my foot, and I elevate my foot every night after work,” said Monarrez. “I never had health issues before working for Amazon.”
Amazon did not comment on complaints about workers’ compensation and deferred to a blog post by CEO Dave Clark on time-off task surveillance and disciplinary systems.
In regards to injury rates, a spokesperson for Amazon said in an email: “The safety and well-being of our employees is always a top priority. We recognize that helping employees stay safe in physical roles takes a lot of focus and investment, which is why we’re investing hundreds of millions in safety in many different ways, from people – we now have a team of nearly 8,000 dedicated safety professionals – to training, to tools and technology.”
I am a child of the internet. I was always drawn to computers and tech, and used to beg my dad to bring us to his office on a weekend so we could use the high-speed internet to play Neopets games. As I got older it was all MSN, MySpace, Paramore fan forums, Tumblr, Twitter and now TikTok. I want nothing more than to zone out and look at my little pictures.
One of my favourite things about the internet is that it allows you to see everyone’s best joke. The moment in their life where they were at their absolute funniest – whether it be because they had a moment of brilliant wit or because they got pulled through a panel roof while practising for a high school play (I assume).
The internet has rotted my brain with the following content. Please now allow it to rot yours.
The Pandemic Years have (and continue to be) difficult for everyone. Who among us has not, at one time or another, needed to just explain themselves by saying: “It’s mental illness, innit?”
2. Perfect burger
When I showed this video to my fiancee, she flatly said: “I like how absurdist it is.” That’s her code for, “I don’t get it, but I’m happy you’re happy.” And I am happy. Look at how confident and brave this burger is – ready to take on the world, come what may. I wish to be the burger.
I have been to court precisely once because I inadvertently got in a cop’s way and he was grumpy about it so he booked me. The penalty was dismissed but not before I cried in front of the judge trying to explain what happened because I was so stressed out. Court is a daunting place and I simply cannot imagine walking in there with any level of irreverence. However, I’m extremely glad there are people who simply do not care, will say whatever damn thing and then an internet angel turns them into TikToks.
4. Turtle choir
This tweet is made all the more majestic by the vaguely threatening Sylvanian Families-style profile picture, on a Twitter account named @bigfatmoosepssy.
5. Trying coffee with pasta water
Climate change is slowly turning the Earth into a barren ball of pain as Mother Nature smacks us for being extremely bad. Even though individual responsibility for climate change isn’t enough to turn the tide, I still applaud those who try. Twitter user @madibskatin woke up in the morning and decided to be the change she wants to see in the world, tastebuds be damned. One could argue that it’s pretty obvious that pasta water isn’t going to make a good coffee but like my dad says as he puts pineapple juice in his coffee: “If no one tries it, how will we know? What if it’s secretly good?”
6. Soaring, flying
If you look closely, this video is actually a metaphor for the ways in which we attempt to break free from our circumstances, yet are entirely at the mercy of them.
7. You cannot trick me
This may be a parody Twitter account, but the spirit of Gail Walden speaks truths. There is no victory sweeter than that which is gained on thine enemy’s own soil.
8. Self-deprecating jokes
Humour is a coping mechanism. I am coping.
Dairy products are delicious. Ice-cream? Revolutionary. Cheese? Life-changing. Whipped cream on a pavlova? Essential. But milk? Disgusting. It’s not a drink, it’s a stepping stone to greater things.
I am absolutely 100% not at all lactose intolerant (I promise) so I don’t relate to this video at all (not even a bit).
The artist formerly know as F5 Networks – it moved to plain old F5 in November – is clipping revenue forecasts for fiscal ’22 by $30m to $90m because it can’t source enough specialised chips to produce systems.
The continued impact of the shortfall was outlined in F5’s Q1 results to 31 December and subsequent earnings conference call, during which chief exec François Locoh-Donou opened up on the challenge of suppliers cancelling orders because they can’t meet demand.
“As a result of persistent strong system demand, our systems backlog continued to grow in Q1,” he said. “Over the last 30 days, suppliers of critical components that span a number of our platforms have informed us of significant increases in decommits.
“These came in the form of both order delivery delays and sudden and pronounced reduction in shipment quantities. The step function decline in components availability is significantly restricting our ability to meet our customers’ continued strong demand for our systems.
“Like others in the industry, we are seeing worsening availability of specialized networking chipsets. Within the last 30 days, we have learned that deliveries for 52-week lead time components or at a year ago have been pushed out and that our expected quantities have been reduced.”
Group turnover grew 10 per cent year-on-year to $687m in F5’s Q1, fuelled by a 47 per cent leap in software to $163m, 2 per cent in services to $344m, and 1 per cent in hardware to $180m.
“Our software transition continues to gain momentum,” said Locoh-Donou, adding later in the earnings call: “While we are solely disappointed that supply chain challenges have gated our ability to fulfil customer demand for systems in the near term, we are more confident than ever in our position, our strategy and our long-term opportunity.”
The backlog grew by 10 per cent so the sales pipeline is looking healthy, said the exec, who was at great pains throughout the call to tell analysts: “It absolutely is a supply issue. And the revision we’ve just done to our annual guidance is 100 per cent linked to the supply issue.”
For the year, F5 now expects sales to grow 4-8 per cent ($610m to $650m).
“The issue with our supply chain has deteriorated steadily. And last year, we were not able to ship the demand, which is why our backlog grew so much during the year.
“Things have been getting worse. And at the beginning of our fiscal year, when we were doing the planning for this year, we actually took into account the number of decommits that we were getting from various suppliers and a situation that was already very tight on a number of components.”
He said in the past month it was seeing more than 400 cancellations from suppliers, “and we were running about 30 per cent less than that even just a month ago – the situation is quite unprecedented.”
In a bid to ameliorate the supply situation, F5 said it is working to design and qualify replacement parts – which may improve thing in the second half of the year. It is also trying to pre-order more components.
F5 is confident that it will not see orders cancelled. “The demand we have is very real. Our lead times, unfortunately, have gotten progressively worse over the last five, six quarters, but we haven’t seen any increase in order cancellation, and we don’t expect to see that going forward,” Locoh-Donou stated.
Supply chain problems with silicon components have been hitting companies in the IT industry and beyond for multiple quarters now, and networking vendors are no less vulnerable.
Last year, Arista warned that lead times for key chips were extending out to 60 weeks, twice what would be expected before the pandemic. Both Arista and Juniper announced they were being forced to bump up prices in November, while Cisco warned its buyers and investors that supply chain issues were likely to persist for several months more, although it expected to see some improvement in the situation for Q3 and Q4, taking us into the second half of 2022. ®
Munters, a Swedish air treatment technology company, will use the Edpac acquisition to expand into the European market.
Irish data centre equipment manufacturer Edpac has been acquired by Swedish company Munters in a €29m deal.
Based in Carrigaline, Co Cork, Edpac manufactures cooling equipment and air handling systems for data centres in the European market, with additional sales in the Middle East, South America and Asia.
For Munters, which has significant operations in North America, the acquisition is an opportunity for it to expand in the European market. Once complete, the deal will see the transfer of Munters’ technologies and engineering capabilities to Ireland.
“The European data centre market is a prioritised segment for Munters, and the acquisition is a significant step in our growth strategy,” said Klas Forsström, president and chief executive of Munters.
Forsström said that Munters’ experience in the North American market will provide Edpac with “opportunities for further profitable growth” by collaborating on “technology development and establishing unified processes”.
Edpac has two manufacturing facilities in Ireland – Newmarket and Carrigaline – and employs around 150 people in the country. Currently a manufacturing partner for Munters, Edpac sees approximately 7pc of its revenue come from the sale of Munters products.
In the financial year ending April 2021, Edpac reported net sales of €17m and earnings before tax of €1.7m. According to The Irish Times, Edpac managing director Noel Lynch has led the company since it was bought from its Swiss parent in 1991.
“We are excited to welcome Edpac to Munters. Edpac brings an attractive, differentiated customer base and high-quality products,” Forsström said, adding that Edpac’s operating model “is a perfect match with Munters ways of working.”
Founded in 1955, Munters aims to create energy efficient air treatment technologies for customers in a wide range of industries. Listed on Nasdaq Stockholm, it employees 3,300 employees across 30 countries – with annual sales exceeding 7bn Swedish krona in 2020.
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