Colorado Workers’ Compensation for Amazon Warehouse Employees
Learn about your right to compensation if you’re injured while working for Amazon
Amazon has 3 distribution warehouses, often called “fulfillment centers,” in Thornton, Aurora and Colorado Springs. In total, there are more than 20,000 Amazon employees currently working across the state of Colorado.
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 often leads to work injuries.
Fortunately, Amazon employees in Colorado are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits after a work-related injury or illness to pay for medical expenses and lost wages.
If you or a loved one is hurt on the job in Colorado, get an experienced Denver workers’ compensation attorney on your side to help protect your rights.
Amazon warehouse injury statistics
Amazon warehouses are notorious for having some of the highest injury rates in the country, many of which could be prevented if employees were given proper safety training. Unfortunately, supervisors may rush through this kind of training or teach new employees the bare minimum before sending them to the floor.
“I’ve seen injuries of the wrist, I’ve seen leg injuries, neck injuries… like half the people I know wear braces now,” one current Amazon employee recently told the Denver7 Investigates team.
But even if workers are properly trained, procedures may sometimes be ignored in favor of productivity and efficiency. In order to meet the outrageous quotas, Amazon workers can’t always safely lift a heavy product or look both ways before crossing the floor.
As a result, many Amazon warehouses have injury rates that are much higher than the industry average. In fact, in 2022, Amazon workers suffered more than 50% of all serious injuries in the warehousing industry, despite making up only 36% of the workforce.
In 2022 alone, Amazon reported a total of 39,000 worker injuries at its facilities across the U.S., up from 38,300 injuries.
In recent years, 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 fact, according to Denver7, Amazon’s Thornton center ranked 9th among Amazon fulfillment centers in the U.S. for the highest number of injuries in 2020, while the Aurora location ranked 58th, with 121 total reported injuries in 2020. Out of almost 400 fulfillment centers, OSHA listed 260 injuries in 1 year at Thornton alone. That’s an average of 5 injuries per week.
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.
Repetitive stress injuries
For more than 10 hours a day, warehouse workers push, pull, lift, retrieve, load and move boxes from one location to another. They’re also reaching up, bending over, bending their knees and twisting their torsos to maneuver these heavy loads.
The act of lifting and carrying heavy boxes all day can also put tremendous strain on a worker’s body and lead to repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), especially for seasonal employees who aren’t used to the physical demands of the job. There are over 100 RSIs, but the most common are tendonitis, arthritis, bulging discs and rotator cuff injuries. In addition to being painful, repetitive stress injuries can make it difficult for workers to continue meeting the demands of their jobs.
Heavy equipment and machine-related injuries
Heavy equipment and machinery that Amazon 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.
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.
It’s common for employees to be rushing around to meet their daily quota inside Amazon fulfillment centers, which makes it easy to slip, trip or fall on a stray cord or slippery surface. The resulting slip-and-fall injuries could include twisted ankles, broken bones, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
Workers in fulfillment centers are often exposed to excessive and dangerous noise levels for long periods of time that could impair their hearing and eventually lead to hearing loss. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 20,000 employees a year suffer from hearing loss.
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 expenses like emergency room visits and surgeries, as well as the small expenses like therapy and prescription and non-prescription medications.
Wage loss benefits
If you’re 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 would 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.
The statistics of work-related accidents in the Colorado warehousing/factory industry, and the most common causes and injuries. Read safety tips on preventing an injury at work.
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.