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Slick sidewalks and protective pets: Pinnacol highlights unique injury trends for fast-growing Amazon delivery service partner industry

December 3, 2020
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Drivers experience animal bites, slip and fall more often than other delivery drivers.

DENVER, Dec. 3, 2020 — Many Coloradans are noticing the increasing presence of delivery vehicles in their neighborhoods as many households have shifted to ordering more supplies online amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pinnacol Assurance, Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation carrier, analyzed its claims data to identify trends and provide safety education for this rapidly growing industry and found these essential workers face their own unique workplace hazards. 

Amazon Delivery Service Partners (DSP) function as third-party contractors and operate independent businesses that enable Amazon to fulfill the rapidly expanding demand for delivered packages throughout the United States. Amazon reports there are now more than 1,700 of these businesses globally, with more than 100,000 workers who have delivered more than 2.2 billion packages, generating more than $5 billion in revenue for their small businesses.

Injury trends 

Pinnacol’s analysis of its DSP workforce claims in Colorado revealed the most common worker injury causes in the past year were:

1.    Slip, trip and fall 

2.    Strain (muscle, such as twisting) 

3.    Environment (dog bites) 

4.    Vehicle (accidents) 

5.    Strike (worker striking an object, such as a fence post) 

Unique injury profile 

Pinnacol estimates Amazon DSP drivers experience “slip and fall” and animal-related injuries more commonly than other delivery drivers in Colorado. Pinnacol’s occupational safety experts attribute this to the industry’s relative newness and increased demand due to the pandemic. They also saw a high incidence of strain injuries, which is expected among employees who handle so many packages per day. All of these injuries can be minimized or prevented with appropriate awareness and training programs.  

“We want employers to be aware of the myriad workplace hazards their drivers can face as they are entering such a high volume of homes, buildings, and other environments on every single shift,” said Pinnacol Safety Consultant Randy Philabaum. “These can include cluttered porches, aggressive animals, and slippery sidewalks.”

Hazards for new workers 

Pinnacol also found that the explosive growth in this industry could be undermining employee safety. Sixty-eight percent of injuries for DSPs happen in the first six months on the job, and 93% of injuries happen in the first year of employment, more than double than what Pinnacol observes in other industries. 

Pinnacol safety experts stress the importance of a rigorous onboarding program that includes safety training such as lifting techniques, exiting and entering the vehicle safely, and safe driving. Employees should be expected to perform regular vehicle inspections and pre-work stretching routines and use winter traction cleats daily.  

Also, Philabaum noted, “Feeling hurried and rushing is a hazard in any work environment but could be especially impactful among these workers who must complete many stops every shift. Employers should balance their expectations of employees working quickly with expectations that they work at a pace that is safe and sustainable.” 

How Coloradans can help 

Philabaum says every Amazon customer can help out these important workers and help keep them safe by taking simple precautions like:

  1. Keeping the path from the street to your home clear of objects or other debris; use salt if icy conditions may occur and keep shoveling snow, so accumulation is not too deep.
  2. Securing pets at all times, even if you think your animal is friendly.
  3. Consider posting a “Beware of Dog” sign visible to the delivery driver - giving drivers an indication of an animal nearby.
  4. Turning on outside lights, many deliveries occur in the evening when daylight is fading.
  5. Adding delivery instructions to communicate with the driver - these preferences can be added to each delivery address; for example, maybe it is safer to deliver to the side door instead of the front door.
  6. Keeping an eye on the road.  When you see a delivery vehicle slowing down or on the side of the road, please mirror that behavior by slowing down and being cautious until you see where the driver is located.

Pinnacol offers free workplace safety resources to all Colorado employers on fall prevention, winter weather safety, safe lifting techniques, driving safety, and animal safety. The insurer is also offering a free virtual safety consultation to any business in the state.

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