Report: Amazon’s focus on building a fast-delivery empire is literally killing people

"If we are forcing these drivers to go like bats out of hell to get this stuff all over town, that’s OK, because we are making it great for our customers. The human cost of this is too much.”

Former Amazon manager speaking to BuzzFeed News

Smith Collection/Gado/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Amazon would like us to believe it’s doing what’s in everyone’s best interest with its cheap goods and fast delivery service. But new documents and interviews published by BuzzFeed News show that the company is still putting its own profits and growth before the safety of its workers and customers.

Full speed ahead, no matter the cost — One of Amazon’s most compelling selling points is its ability to put products in the hands of consumers at lightning speed. In order to deliver at this mind-bending pace, Amazon has repeatedly shirked safety in favor of fast expansion and low overhead. BuzzFeed News’ report cites an unsettling number of deaths by consequence of Amazon’s delivery drivers.

According to BuzzFeed News’ investigation, drivers delivering Amazon packages have been involved in more than 60 crashes that led to serious injuries. At least 10 people died in these crashes. The company is known to rush new drivers through the hiring process; this year it added one who reported night blindness, as shown by internal company documents.

No culpability for Amazon — Amazon has ensured its own safety in these matters; the company’s contracts with delivery companies include plenty of protections against any and all liabilities. This effectively removes all legal responsibility for Amazon — if someone is hit by a delivery vehicle, it’s not Amazon’s fault.

Will Gordon, a former Amazon employee who worked on the company’s delivery efficiency, stated, “There was a maniacal focus on increasing shipments per route. Everything was about getting more shipments per truck. It was the one metric that drove the organization.”

Increased public scrutiny — Amazon’s careless ways are by no means going unnoticed. Besides press-led investigations, U.S. lawmakers are also demanding Amazon answer for its almost complete dismissal of safety. Two U.S. senators, Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, penned a letter in September asking Jeff Bezos to overhaul Amazon’s safety measures.

“It is simply unacceptable for Amazon to turn the other way as drivers are forced into potentially unsafe vehicles and given dangerous workloads,” they wrote.

Bezos did not respond to the letter; an Amazon lobbyist did, though. “Safety is Amazon’s top priority,” the letter stated. A month later, a 23-month-old boy died after being hit by an Amazon delivery contractor in Chicago.

Amazon continues to deny its responsibility for the many lives lost due to its downright careless rise to power. Unless the company assumes culpability and makes massive changes to its operations, this problem will only continue to worsen.