Colorado Workers’ Compensation for Amazon Warehouse Employees
Everything you need to know about workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado
Amazon has distribution warehouses—so-called “fulfillment centers”—in Thornton (DEN3) and Aurora (DEN2). In addition, Amazon announced the development of a Colorado Springs fulfillment center to be completed in 2021. Officials are saying that this 4-story warehouse may be the biggest distribution facility of its type ever built by Amazon.
In total, there are more than 4,000 full-time Amazon employees across the state of Colorado, with over 1,000 more individuals to be hired when the Colorado Springs warehouse is complete.
Amazon fulfillment centers pay attractive hourly wages and each employee receives health benefits, which makes these jobs desirable for many Coloradoans. However, Amazon workers also work in an extremely fast-paced and high-pressure environment, and that environment can often lead to work injuries.
If you or a loved one is hurt on the job in Colorado, get an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer on your side.
In the meantime, learn more about the process and how a lawyer could benefit you below.
Amazon warehouse injury statistics
Many Amazon warehouses have injury rates that are much higher than the industry average. In fact, one Portland warehouse racked up nearly 26 serious injuries for every 100 full-time employees, a rate more than 6 times the industry average.
According to 2018 injury statistics, Colorado’s Amazon fulfillment centers in Thornton and Aurora ranked near the top of the list for having the highest rates of serious injuries requiring days off work and job restrictions.
In Thornton, nearly 17 workers out of 100 were seriously injured on the job. In Aurora, over 15 out of 100 workers suffered a serious workplace accident. Both of these statistics are well above the national average warehouse injury rate of 4.
Common Amazon warehouse injuries
Working in a warehouse is inherently dangerous. There are countless ways in which a warehouse worker might be injured on the job.
For starters, Amazon employees must lift and load heavy boxes, and these boxes can fall on employees and cause injuries. The act of lifting and carrying heavy boxes all day can also put tremendous strain on a worker’s body. Amazon workers must also load and unload boxes from trucks. Entering and exiting trucks can be dangerous as well, with some employees falling from the cab of the vehicle.
Some workers, in a rush to complete their many responsibilities at an acceptable speed, suffer a slip and fall injury, injuries to the spine, broken bones, or head injuries.
Warehouse employees are also exposed to dangerous noise levels that can lead to hearing loss.
Heavy equipment and machinery that workers use on a daily basis may be unsafe, or an employee may be forced to operate equipment without personal protective equipment (PPE). Many Amazon warehouses use robots to move items, and employees may have body parts trapped in-between machinery.
In addition, the constant bending and exertion can cause repetitive stress injuries and employees may struggle to meet the demands of their job because of work-related tendonitis or arthritis.
Workers also can get hurt when they’re struck by trucks or forklifts. Truck and forklift accidents lead to catastrophic injuries. These include broken bones, amputated limbs and severed spines.
Amazon workers’ compensation rights in Colorado
Amazon is required by the state of Colorado to provide workers’ compensation for all full-time, part-time and seasonal workers. This includes fulfillment center warehouse team members. Independent contractors who deliver for Amazon may not be covered; however, this depends on the individual circumstances of your employment.
Under Colorado workers’ compensation laws, you should receive compensation for medical expenses if you were injured in the course and scope of your employment. Medical benefits should cover the big things like emergency room visits and surgeries, as well as the small things like therapy and both prescription and non-prescription medications.
If you are off work as a result of your injury, you should also receive wage loss benefits or temporary disability. Temporary disability benefits are based on your average weekly wage, which includes sick pay and overtime. If your health insurance was canceled, this will also increase your average weekly wage, and therefore, the benefits you receive.
If you are losing wages following a work injury, you may be entitled to either temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. TTD benefits are for employees who are completely off of work and losing all wages, whereas TPD benefits are for workers who can continue to work but cannot perform the same responsibilities and are earning less as a result.
After you have recovered as much as your doctor believes is possible, you may be eligible for either permanent total disability (PTD) or permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. Your entitlement to permanent disability benefits will depend on your medical condition and any ongoing symptoms you experience at the end of your case.
What to do if you’ve been injured at an Amazon warehouse
If you’ve been injured, you should first report your injuries immediately to your employer (a manager or supervisor is sufficient). The longer you wait, the harder it may be to establish a claim.
If your injury is an emergency, go to the emergency room immediately. If it is not an emergency, visit an employer-approved doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will tell you if you are able to work or not.
If you are not assigned work restrictions, then be sure to show up for work and perform your responsibilities as normal. If you believe that you are unable to perform your duties due to your injuries, inform both your employer and your doctor.
After you have reported your claim and sought medical treatment, it is important to ensure that a workers’ compensation claim is filed. Once that has been done, the insurance carrier can either accept the claim by filing a General Admission of Liability, or deny the claim by filing a Notice of Contest. Either a General Admission of Liability or Notice of Contest is due within 20 days of when you filed the claim.
If you receive a notice referring to an “IME,” know that this stands for “Independent Medical Examiner.” This medical professional gives a second opinion. You must attend your appointment with the IME or your claim may be denied.
When to consult an experienced Colorado workers’ compensation lawyer
If your employer refuses to report your injury, threatens you with retaliation, or attempts to downplay your injuries, then you should consult a Colorado workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. We will help you gather the evidence necessary to prove that you are, in fact, seriously injured and unable to return to work. We will represent you from start to finish.