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Amazon Aims for One-Day Shipping Amid Growing Safety Controversies

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The retail giant Amazon is reportedly gearing up to offer one-day shipping, as questions start to arise about the safety implication of the company’s push for ever faster delivery. Day One Amazon is reportedly spending upwards of $800 million to make one-day shipping a reality, and analysts at RBC Capital Markets believe this could generate more than $24 billion in additional sales and a possible 50% stock increase over the next year. Through its Amazon Prime service, which has more than a 100 million members, the company has previously made two day-shipping the industry standard, forcing competitors such as Walmart to scramble to keep up. Analysts believe that Amazon moving to a one-day model could have a similar impact. Human Cost But while Amazon is working on making its delivery services even faster, a new joint report from The New York Times and ProPublica delves into the human cost of the company’s push to dominate the delivery game. The report identified more than 60 accidents since June 2015 that resulted in serious injuries, including 10 deaths. This report is likely only a fraction of the total amount of accidents involving Amazon, because many people involved in accidents don’t report or sue, and it can often be very difficult to tell that Amazon was involved. Shields Amazon tightly controls the delivery routes of delivery drivers, and is very aggressive about making certain packages are delivered on time. This aggressive push, plus the company’s willingness to hire drivers without previous delivery experience and reportedly lax safety training (the Times article noted that when the instructional video many drivers are shown was printed out, “less than half of one page” was devoted to defensive driving) has led many critics to view the company as responsible for accidents. The company reportedly uses a series of contractors, subcontractors and liability waver agreements to shield itself from lawsuits and accountability, and argues that it is not responsible for the actions of delivery drivers that are not, technically, their employees. In once instance, Amazon sued the insurance company of New Jersey contractor and forced it to cover the cost of a pay out. California Here We Come? Amazon has defended itself and reiterated its commitment to safety in response to an earlier ProPublica and to BuzzFeed article about it delivery practices. The question of whether drivers should be considered full-time employees of a company, which would make companies both liable and responsible for them, or if they should continue to be contractors has been hotly debated in recent years, and with an impending California law that looks to reclassify Uber and Lyft drivers from contractors to drivers, look for Amazon’s practices to come under increasing scrutiny. -Michael Tedder Photo by Adobe