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Could your warehouse job disable you?

It's been said that if you can't find it on Amazon, it probably can't be legally purchased. But at what cost to the workers are these sales? You might be shocked at what the workers have to endure at one of the world's leading shopping delivery companies.

No time for bathroom breaks?

Amazon staffers described to a media source that they were under such intense pressure to retrieve and pack items for delivery that they had no time to use the bathroom. Being human with human needs, some workers answered nature's call by urinating in the trash cans on the warehouse floor.

Workers described short, timed bathroom breaks that were further diminished by waiting to pass through security lines. The company refuted these workers' accounts, saying employees weren't penalized for their bathroom breaks and that the breaks weren't timed.

But some Amazon employees demur. As one stated in an interview, "Water consumption is a concern because leaving [your task] to go to the toilet might take 10 to 15 minutes." Time-off-tasks are electronically tracked, with warnings issued when productivity slackens.

Penalized for getting sick

Amazon has been accused of disregarding its employees' health. A worker claims to have suffered an asthma attack as he worked one night. He then was subjected to penalties when he took off for being sick.

Some workers' ailments make it difficult to maintain productivity as "pickers," i.e., those who move around the warehouse retrieving shoppers' items for packaging and delivery. Getting accommodations for physical limitations was not always guaranteed, an employee claimed.

Bottom line above all else

One Amazon worker stated, "The metrics are brutally aggressive, and most of my colleagues are in a state of constant anxiety that we could be fired at any moment for not meeting metrics."

It's not unusual to have employees meet certain quotas or production standards. That's an across-the-board standard in many American industries. But to compromise workers' health in order to meet those quotas day in and day out is not compatible with best practices for workplaces.

Adverse work conditions can lead to disabilities

There are many ways in which working in a Yolo County warehouse could lead or contribute to disabling conditions for employees. In the cited example at Amazon, limiting bathroom breaks (or penalizing those workers who take them) can lead to urinary tract infections and kidney problems. Untreated, infections can become systemic and life-threatening, and kidney disease can mean being tethered to a dialysis machine for hours each week.

If you know or suspect that conditions at your job led to your disabling injuries or conditions, you owe it to yourself and your family to learn what you can do about it. You may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits.

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