Anecdotal evidence suggests that more workers than ever are employed in Illinois warehouses as the online shopping segment continues to grow. To fulfill those millions of online orders received each day, warehouse workers must package, select and ship out the products on demand. With just one company, Amazon, controlling more than 150 million square footage of warehouse space around the globe and many more competitors following, warehouses are in many cases replacing brick-and-mortar retail stores. This also means that there are more full-time workers in warehouses and even part-time workers looking for supplemental income around the holidays.
As warehouses become even more dominant in the retail industry landscape, warehouse jobs may also become riskier. In 2017, 22 workers were killed in workplace accidents in warehouses, double the number who lost their lives only two years before. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that five out of every 100 full-time employees in warehouses are likely to be injured, an equivalent rate to farmworkers. Even the drive toward automation can be dangerous. Autonomous forklifts, robots and other devices may be intended to cut down on human labor, but they can also lead to serious injuries to the workers interacting with them.
Furthermore, warehouse environments are often high-pressure workplaces, with extreme demands to work quickly and produce a large number of shipped packages. As a result, safety rules and even federal workplace safety regulations may be pushed to the side by management hoping to achieve their productivity numbers. Workers could be pressured to lift and carry items unsafely or not given proper training, in violation of OSHA requirements.
An injured warehouse worker may find themselves unable to work and facing escalating medical bills. However, a workers’ compensation attorney can help them to pursue the benefits they are entitled to under the law.