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USA: Investigation finds Amazon 'escapes responsibility' for injuries and deaths involving delivery contractors

Author: Patricia Callahan, ProPublica, Published on: 10 September 2019

"The Delivery Race: How Amazon Hooked America on Fast Delivery While Avoiding Responsibility for Crashes", 5 September 2019

... Amazon has built a huge logistics operation…to get more goods to customers’ homes in less...time. ..[Amazon] has created a network of contractors…that allows the company to expand and shrink the delivery force as needed, while avoiding the costs of...permanent employees….

… An investigation...identified more than 60 accidents since June 2015 involving Amazon delivery contractors that resulted in serious injuries, including 10 deaths. That tally is most likely a fraction of the accidents…Many people don’t sue, and those who do can’t always tell when Amazon is involved…

…as Amazon argues that it bears no legal responsibility…it maintains a tight grip on how the delivery drivers do their jobs…often Amazon directs…the order of the deliveries and the route to each destination. Amazon software tracks drivers’ progress, and a dispatcher...can call them if they fall behind schedule...

…an operations manager for Amazon testified...that it signs…agreements with all its “delivery service partners,” who assume the liability and the responsibility for legal costs…

...Amazon…is…secretive about details of its operations…in many of the accidents involving its contractors, drivers were using cars, trucks and cargo vans that bore no hint of Amazon’s corporate logo…

…In a written statement…Amazon said: “The assertions do not provide an accurate representation of Amazon’s commitment to safety…we have invested…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 spokeswoman Rena Lunak sent…an additional…statement. “We require that all delivery service partners maintain comprehensive insurance,...so if in the rare case an accident does occur, there is coverage for all involved,”…

 …It’s difficult to determine the accident rate...of Amazon’s…contractors because the company does not disclose that information and much of its delivery operation falls into a regulatory void…

...drivers echoed...[a] feeling of pressure. Jeffrey Lines...testified...that when he’d delivered Amazon Prime Now packages...he couldn’t stop even to use a restroom. “You can’t get a break...Because if you take a break, you delay the orders, we get fired."...

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