Risks is the TUC's weekly newsletter for safety reps and others, sponsored by Thompsons Solicitors.
A study has exposed unhealthy workplace practices at a major Amazon warehouse in New York. The report was timed to be released on the anniversary of the Staten Island facility's opening. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) research report, ‘Time off task: Pressure, pain, and productivity at Amazon’, reveals that 80 per cent of workers were pressured to work harder or faster at their facility, 66 per cent expressed experiencing physical pain while performing work duties, and 42 per cent continued to experience pain even when they weren't at work. The report notes “that workers experience harmful working conditions and a workplace culture that prioritises line speeds over human safety. Several workers expressed being evaluated and docked points for the amount of ‘time off task’ spend in a day. ‘Time off tasks’ refers to any break that a worker takes, excluding their legally required 30-minute lunch break. If a worker has too much time off task, they may be disciplined and are ultimately subject to termination for poor performance.” NYCOSH executive director and report co-author Charlene Obernauer said: “This report shows that Amazon, which has been criticised for its company culture in other cities, is running its Staten Island facility without regard for workers' need to be treated as people, not robots. You can't expect workers to work safely when they are going to be docked points if they take a break for a sip of water.” She added: “There is no reason - none - that a company like Amazon can't do more to prevent the pain and suffering experienced by workers in its warehouses. The injuries documented by NYCOSH researchers can be prevented through a worker-centred ergonomics programme, better staffing, and other measures that are well within reach for a company with billions in annual profits.”
NYCOSH news release and report, Time off task: Pressure, pain, and productivity at Amazon, NYCOSH, October 2019. The Guardian.
Amazon in the UK: GMB ‘Amazon workers are not robots’ campaign and petition. More on Amazon UK’s safety record and related That’s rich! poster.
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