United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) brought in $48.9 billion in revenue in 2015, delivering 4.7 billion packages and documents in the United States and around the globe. There are 1,800 UPS facilities and more than 104,000 UPS vehicles in operation, as well as UPS aircraft making hundreds of deliveries daily. To make it all happen, UPS employs 444,000 men and women to perform a wide range of job duties.
UPS employs many people across Texas, and the company provides a lot of good jobs involving hard work for decent pay, along with the promise of benefits that ensure its employees will be taken care of if anything happens. However, in practice, some UPS workers are unprepared for how much they may have to fight to take advantage of the work injury benefits and rights they are allowed by the law.
UPS employees vulnerable to many different kinds of injuries on the job
Many of the positions available with UPS are hard on the body, but even office employees run the risk of an injury at work. UPS employees have suffered a range of injuries on the job, including:
- Spinal injuries. Heavy lifting can weaken the spine, resulting in an inability to lift heavy objects or a decreased range of motion. The daily physical labor of delivering packages can take a toll on the spine and cause loss of motion years later.
- Back and neck injuries. Soft-tissue injuries are common in delivery employees, whether they happen in a sudden accident or with repeated stress over time.
- Knee injuries. The knees can be injured by employees bending, twisting, or lifting heavy packages at an awkward angle.
- Repetitive stress injuries. Many workers are injured little by little from the daily physical demands of the job, including bending, lifting, and hauling.
- Slip-and-fall injuries. Falls can occur in any workplace, but most UPS employees spend a lot of time on their feet. Workers can fall in the warehouse, on someone else’s property, or from the truck.
- Broken bones. Workers are at constant risk of getting their hands and fingers caught in heavy doors, lifts, and conveyance systems or suffering broken bones when heavy items fall from trucks.
- Accidents in work vehicles. Delivery truck accidents are an occupational hazard for UPS drivers and can result in any number of debilitating injuries.
Unfortunately, at least one study has shown that UPS workers run a higher risk for work injuries than workers in other industries, and they may have trouble getting the workers’ compensation benefits and information they need when it happens.
Are UPS workers more likely to be injured than other employees?
In 2003, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) released a list of federal workplaces with accident and injury rates higher than twice the national average. UPS made the list 174 times in facilities across the nation. The study also included some additional information of concern to UPS workers:
- The number of accidents and injuries could actually be higher. The list only includes facilities that are monitored by federal OSHA standards in 26 states. Since the remaining states are regulated by state OSHA agencies, there could be at least as many more high-risk facilities unreported.
- UPS workers experienced double the injuries (or more). The average U.S. workplace had three lost-time injuries or illnesses per every 100 workers. The listed UPS workplaces experienced work accidents at a rate of “six or more,” all resulting in lost workdays or restricted ability per 100 workers.
- UPS has been cited for workplace safety violations. Between 2000 and 2003, UPS was cited for 188 OSHA violations, including the death of an employee who was crushed between a UPS truck and a loading dock.
UPS declined to release the details of its accident and injury record following the release of OSHA’s report. However, the company did respond that the accident rate used to be much higher, saying it actually reduced the workplace injury rate by 49 percent between 1996 and 2001.
Does UPS have a history of fighting work injury claims from employees?
According to one article, workers say that UPS has a history of denying workers’ compensation claims, telling workers that their knee, shoulder, and back injuries are not work-related. Union representatives have said that torn ligaments and back injuries in UPS workers are usually caused by the repetitive stress of the job, regardless of whether they happen on “official” company time or not.
“Guys bend over to tie their shoes and something goes out in their back,” said Teamsters business agent John Siebert. “The guy spent 20 to 25 years humping packages from trucks to docks. The body just gave out.”
UPS also has a history of protecting itself against workers’ compensation claims. In the 1990s, UPS sought to endow a $2.5 million chair in occupational orthopedics at the University of Washington, demanding it be awarded to professor Stanley Bigos. Bigos’s back injury research centered around the idea that workers’ attitudes played a more important role than ergonomic factors.
UPS also lobbied against a proposal that would have required companies to check a special box indicating musculoskeletal injuries on OSHA injury reports, arguing that UPS supervisors should not have to “play doctor” and determine whether an injury was musculoskeletal. Union spokesmen, however, believe that UPS was actually trying to avoid reporting such high numbers of these injuries.
Even though the risk of injury to a UPS employee is considerably high, the delivery giant doesn’t always want to pay out large sums to an employee who has been injured on the job. Our experienced lawyers have seen countless companies take advantage of their employees by denying benefits and fighting their claims of injury at work.
If you were hurt at work, you should know that you may be eligible for workers’ compensation—including lost wages and related medical costs—under federal law, or you may have the right to hold your employer or a third party responsible for negligence. For more information about your rights and a free case review, contact VB Attorneys today at 1-877-724-7800.