Martin Sanders | Amazon and Workplace Safety
Amazon may be one of the best companies in the world in terms of being a top employer and a digital company, but unfortunately they aren’t the safest — far from it. In a report by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, Amazon was flagged for its deplorable warehouse conditions. Martin Lloyd Sanders, former Chief Scientist Officer, says that no company is exempt from creating a safe and healthy workplace for its employees, no matter if they’re a technical juggernaut like Amazon.
While Amazon is known for being an online retailer, which means they don’t have the traditional brick and mortar presence to cater to their customers like others retailers, the company nonetheless has an expanding physical footprint because of their office spaces, data centers, and warehouses. Image Source: MarketWatch
For the most part, Amazon’s warehouses have been on the news because of their innovative use of robotics for order fulfillment. In light of the report done by the National COSH however, tales of employees sustaining injuries in the warehouses are showing another side to the convenience of online shopping. Due to an ever-growing demand for faster delivery, workers find themselves in circumstances that put their lives at risk.
As it is, Martin Lloyd Sanders shares that an average of 16 fatalities in the warehousing and storage sector occurs every year. This is based on the numbers reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the case of Amazon, the Council reported that seven of its workers have died since 2013. The report goes into detail on the nature of the deaths. Of the seven, two were crushed by forklifts, one was run over by a truck, one had a heart attack, one was crushed by a conveyor belt, one was killed by a pallet loader, and one was hit by an SUV driver. Martin Lloyd Sanders explains that what makes these numbers alarming is that these deaths could have been prevented.
So how do companies enforce higher safety standards? Martin Lloyd Sanders says that first things first, all warehouse employees should undergo certified training, regardless of whether they are going to be operating heavy equipment or doing manual handling. In Amazon’s case, when one of its workers was crushed by a forklift, the company should have already reviewed its workplace safety policies and provided refresher training to its staff. While only a proper investigation can truly say whether Amazon took such necessary steps, the fact that a second worker died from the same cause suggests that the company doesn’t seem to take workplace safety seriously.
Of course, it’s expected that a company like Amazon will say that the safety of their workers is their number one priority, but when tragic and freak accidents such as those happen, it’s only normal to wonder whether what goes in the warehouses, behind the curtains and away from the limelight of the media.
In the end, Martin Lloyd Sanders says that he hopes Amazon will listen to the findings of the National COSH. It isn’t just for the sake of their workers but the entire company’s as well.