Amazon joins multimillion dollar partnership to combat common workplace injuries
The National Safety Council and Amazon announced a partnership Thursday aimed at cutting musculoskeletal injuries, common workplace injuries including sprains and tears, hernias, carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain.
The goal of the campaign is to better understand how musculoskeletal disorders develop and find ways to prevent them. Amazon will contribute $12 million to NSC, the largest corporate donation made to the consumer and workplace safety nonprofit in its 108-year existence, said Lorraine Martin, the president and CEO of the National Safety Council.
The effort will include an international advisory council made up of other corporations, researchers and safety experts. Over the next five years, the partnership will provide small businesses and universities with grants to fund research, as well as sponsoring innovation competitions.
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Musculoskeletal disorders involve injury to the bones, muscles, joints, ligaments or tendons, usually from repetitive motions or overexertion.
“Musculoskeletal complaints are among the most common reasons that people see a physician, and about 80% of people before the age of 50 experience some kind of lower back pain,” said Dr. Edward Laskowski, a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 30% of all 2018 incidents in which private sector employees had to take days off involved MSDs. Approximately 1.7 billion people have musculoskeletal conditions across the globe, according to the World Health Organization.
Heather MacDougall, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide workplace health and safety, said MSDs are her company’s most common injury and usually occur within the first six months of employment.
“At Amazon, about 40% of our injuries are MSD related,” said MacDougall during a virtual news conference Wednesday. The company employed over 1.2 million workers worldwide at the end of 2020, according to Macrotrends.
According to a Washington Post analysis of 2020 data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Amazon warehouses reported 5.9 serious injury incidents per every 200,000 hours worked. Other warehouses reported a rate of 3.1. The rate was higher in 2019, with 7.8 serious incidents.
The company recently shared its goal to cut recordable incident rates 50% by 2025
The importance of reducing injures extends beyond employees themselves, Martin said.
“MSD injuries don’t just represent challenges for the impacted workers, but also their families, loved ones, and their communities,” she said.
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