Ambulances were reportedly called out to Amazon’s UK warehouses more than 600 times in the last three years.
Figures obtained by the GMB Union revealed that in one of the e-retailer’s sites in Rugeley, near Birmingham, an ambulance attended every 10 days on average, the Times has reported. Meanwhile a nearby Tesco warehouse of a similar size had fewer than three ambulance visits each year.
The Freedom of Information requests reveal that Amazon’s employees are under constant pressure to hit performance targets meaning there is not enough time to take toilet breaks or get a drink, acording to the Union.
Four fifths of the union’s 200 members who work for the internet retailer reported pain as a result of their workload while one pregnant woman said she was forced to stand for the length of her 10-hour shift.
According to the Times, the woman was told by a safety manager “It’s not what you want, it is what we decide” and that most women were forced to work on picking until their maternity leave.
GMB officer Mick Rix said that the union was seeking advice over potential legal action against the retailer.
“Companies like Amazon should be treating staff with respect, not treating them like robots,” he told the Guardian.
“Hundreds of ambulance call-outs, pregnant women telling us they are forced to stand for ten hours a day, pick, stow, stretch and bend, pull heavy carts and walk miles — even miscarriages and pregnancy issues at work.
“None of these things happen in a safe, happy working environments,”
An Amazon spokesperson said it was “simply not correct” to suggest there were unsafe working conditions based on the data or “unsubstantiated anecdotes”.
“Requests for ambulance services at our fulfilment centres are predominantly associated with personal health events and are not work-related,”the spokesperson told the Times.
“Nevertheless, ambulance visits at our UK fulfilment centres last year was 0.00001 per worked hour, which is dramatically low.”
Amazon said there were 43% fewer injuries on average than other companies conducting transportation and warehousing activities in the UK and that once it was aware that a worker was pregnant it carried out a full risk assessment and would consult a doctor if necessary.
A spokesman added: “We don’t recognise these allegations as an accurate portrayal of activities in our buildings.”
The company told the Guardian that it did not monitor toilet breaks and had water stations in place to give workers easy access to water throughout their shifts.
Amazon has been contacted for further comment by The Bookseller.