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From Amazon Warehouses, 189 Disturbing Calls

Daily Beast sees evidence of 'employees on the edge' in 911 logs
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2019 4:44 PM CDT
Updated Mar 17, 2019 3:40 PM CDT
In this 2017 photo, a worker pushes bins at an Amazon fulfillment center in Baltimore.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(Newser) – Stories about working conditions in Amazon warehouses have been circulating for years, and the Daily Beast is out with an investigation that adds a disturbing tangible element. Between October 2013 and October 2018, it found that 189 emergency calls had been placed from Amazon warehouses across the US because of "suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts, and other mental-health episodes." And the examination of 911 logs and such covered only 46 warehouses in 17 states, or only about 25% of the total number of warehouses. A quote from one former employee sums things up: “It’s this isolating colony of hell where people having breakdowns is a regular occurrence,” says Jace Crouch, who worked at a facility in Lakeland, Florida. It’s “mentally taxing to do the same task super fast for 10-hour shifts, four or five days a week.”

The investigation does not compare the numbers at Amazon to those at other companies or make the case that working conditions in the Amazon facilities are any worse than elsewhere. Also, some of the affected employees acknowledged having mental health issues before taking their jobs at Amazon, though they say the work exacerbated their issues. Still, the multitude of calls offers "a visceral, real-time glimpse of employees on the edge," per the story. Amazon responds that the focus on the total number of calls is an “overgeneralization” that “doesn’t take into account the total of our associate population, hours worked, or our growing network.” Click for the full story, which includes 911 transcripts of some of the actual calls. (Read more Longform stories.)

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