Report: Warehouse injuries in New York are on the rise

The National Employment Law Project found 1 in 11 workers needed to seek medical attention for a workplace injury.

Working in a warehouse can be high-risk.

Working in a warehouse can be high-risk. Sean Justice/Getty Images

Warehouse workers are injured more frequently than workers in any other industry in New York state, according to a new study from the National Employment Law Project. The report, shared exclusively with City & State, found that in 2022, 1 in 11 warehouse workers in the state experienced an injury requiring medical attention. That's double the rate in 2017. Injuries have also become increasingly severe, requiring workers to miss several days of work, the report found, citing new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the most common injuries warehouse workers face are musculoskeletal, such as sprains and lower back injuries. In 2023, state Sen. Jessica Ramos sponsored the Warehouse Worker Injury Reduction Act to create a solution to reduce and prevent injuries by improving workplace conditions and strengthening health and safety rights. The bill states that “warehouse companies often require workers to perform fast paced manual material handling tasks. These involve well-known risk factors for serious injury such as rapid pace, repetitive forceful exertions like lifting heavy packages, and awkward postures like twisting/bending.” The legislation would include: 

  • Evaluations of large warehouses for potential risks of musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Established and consistent safety standards for workers across the industry.
  • Effective training on how to prevent injuries.
  • Formation of worker health and safety committees to address any onsite hazards.
  • Improvements of onsite medical care for workers.

The new report was done in collaboration with New Yorkers for a Fair Economy, a coalition of labor and advocacy groups that have advocated for the passage of the Warehouse Worker Injury Reduction Act in Albany.

While the report from NELP does not focus exclusively on Amazon warehouses, New York lawmakers and advocates have repeatedly drawn attention to worker safety concerns at the internet giant’s warehouses across the state. A 2023 report by the University of Illinois Chicago found that 41% of Amazon workers reported being injured. The report also found that many employees had to take unpaid time off due to pain or exhaustion from working at the warehouse.

People of color in the U.S. are overrepresented in frontline industries, which includes warehouses.