Two U.S. Senators are urging Amazon to focus on the safety and health of its workers during the 2022 holiday season.
On Nov. 23, Senators Sherrod Brown and Cory Booker released a letter they issued to Amazon, pressing the company on workplace safety issues ahead of the holiday sales season.
Letter mentions deaths, high injury rate
In the letter, Brown and Booker mention 2019 incidents in Amazon fulfillment centers involving workers who died from heart attacks after becoming dehydrated in extreme heat as well as the company’s 2021 injury rate, which is twice as high as those of rival companies.
The letter states, “Reports have also shown that from 2020 to 2021, Amazon warehouses’ injury rates increased by 20% across the country.”
“As this pattern of insufficient response by Amazon continues and the effects are evident, it is even more important for Amazon to address exacerbated safety issues during busy holidays for consumers,” the Senators wrote.
Brown, Booker provide list of issues to address
Specifically, Brown and Booker urged Amazon to:
- implement paid, comprehensive safety training for all employees, including temporary workers and independent contractors
- take steps to improve warehouse ventilation and air quality
- improve shift rotations so that workers aren’t spending prolonged periods of time working close to significant indoor heat sources
- allow and encourage workers to take a preventative cool-down rest in cool areas when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating
- address the “sky-high” rates of musculoskeletal disorders in all operations
- provide adequate and timely medical referrals for a doctor’s care to injured workers, and
- hire enough workers to provide everyone with appropriate time off with their families.
Company safety practices already under scrutiny
In May, Congressman Donald Norcross of New Jersey, a member of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee, called for an OSHA investigation into Amazon warehouses over “skyrocketing” injury rates at its New Jersey facilities.
OSHA, along with federal prosecutors in New York, began investigating multiple Amazon warehouses all around the U.S. in July. In August, that investigation added three more facilities for “potential workplace safety hazards at Amazon warehouses nationwide, as well as possible fraudulent conduct designed to hide injuries from OSHA and other regulators.”
That investigation is ongoing.