Working in a warehouse is not exactly easy, but online shopping is making things much worse. Illinois warehouse employees are now expected to work alongside robots as they retrieve and package items for customers. Those robots are large, heavy and fast-moving, putting people at risk for serious workplace accidents.
Warehouse robots are supposed to take over physically demanding and even mundane work tasks. While this can be helpful, employers tend to increase expectations of their workers after seeing how quickly the robots work. Higher expectations combined with frequent unease of working so closely to large robots takes a pretty serious emotional toll on people. The problem is not all in workers’ heads, either.
In 2014, the online retail giant Amazon had about 15,000 robotic vehicles working in its various warehouses. There are currently over 200,000 of these units moving consumer goods all day, every day. When Amazon drastically increased its number of robot units, worker injuries also shot up. According to The Center for Investigative Reporting, Amazon’s rate for serious workplace injuries is more than twice that of the current industry average. But that could change as companies introduce more and more robots into their own warehouses as they try to keep up with Amazon.
Most people expected robots to take over most human jobs, not supplement their work duties. Although Illinois workers are probably relieved to still have their jobs, that might not be much of a comfort following serious workplace accidents. What can help is getting the right help. Workers’ compensation benefits provide much needed help for things like medical bills and lost income.