Some jobs are just naturally more hazardous than others, but there are still protections in place to ensure the safety of employees. Employers need to follow certain laws and regulations through the US Department of Labor and OSHA to provide a safe workplace for employees. It’s not uncommon to see an employer taking advantage of their employees, but that’s where the Justice Department steps in. NBC News reported in July that Amazon is being investigated for possible worker hazards at many of their warehouses. A U.S. official stated: “Federal workplace inspectors went to Amazon warehouses in several cities … as the Justice Department investigates possible safety issues and whether injuries were hidden.” These warehouses in question were located in New York City, Chicago, and Orlando. One concern is that the pace required from these workers is too extreme, while another concern is that injuries on the job have been hidden. An Amazon spokesperson commented on the investigation in their defense, saying: “We’ll of course cooperate with OSHA in their investigation, and we believe it will ultimately show that these concerns are unfounded.” Another Amazon spokesperson did confirm a death of one employee at a New Jersey warehouse, which Amazon said has been properly managed with their family.
Earlier this year, Washington state’s Department of Labor released a statement saying Amazon calls for “strenuous work at an unsafe pace” at their Kent fulfillment center. Amazon disagrees and intends to appeal the labor agency. In response to these concerns, the U.S. Attorney’s office has created ways for former and current workers to report issues related to pace of work, failure to report injuries, and failure to receive proper care at Amazon’s first-aid center, which is provided by the retail giant.
Many Amazon workers from warehouses around the country have tried to form unions, citing working conditions and pace are unfair. Last year, there were reports that Amazon workers were being treated like robots, but Jeff Bezos combated that in his final shareholder letter saying: “that’s simply not accurate.” He stated that employees get designated breaks and often take additional casual breaks. In the letter he also said that Amazon does not set “unreasonable performance goals.” Employees at a Staten Island warehouse voted to join the Amazon Labor Union—formed by current and former employees of Amazon, yet other workers at a second facility voted against joining the union.
Whatever the outcome of these investigations, the demand on Amazon workers must be intense given the massive amount of business they do. It’s estimated that Amazon ships over 66,000 orders per hour and about 18 orders per second. No matter how many employees they have, that’s a lot to keep up with. Providing a safe work environment for employees should be on the top of any business’s priority list. If you need help with training or implementing safety strategies for your office, Shield-Safety is your best bet. We can provide consultation on your businesses needs as well as help bring in better practices for your office.