Faster shipping from Amazon raises worker safety concerns
Amazon’s announcement that it will soon provide one-day shipping for some customers is not receiving an enthusiastic response from worker safety advocates.
Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said on Thursday that the company will change the current two-day standard free shipping plan to a one day plan for Prime members.
Ironically, the announcement came shortly after Amazon was named #1 on the “Dirty Dozen” list of unsafe employers released by National COSH – in large part for the pressure it puts on employees to work at a fast pace.
Amazon has had six worker fatalities at its facilities since 2018, all of whom were employees of other firms or contract workers, rather than full-time Amazon employees. According to National COSH, recent investigations have uncovered workers urinating in bottles because they are afraid to take breaks and a high incidence of suicide attempts among employees of the company.
Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), said the current two-day shipping policy forces Amazon fulfillment workers to process 200-300 orders per hour, working 12-hour shifts.
“They struggle already to maintain that pace,” said Appelbaum. “If Amazon plans to effectively double the speed, it must also address existing workforce needs and ensure its workers are safe. Increasing fulfillment speeds means they need to hire more workers, under more sustainable speeds that don’t put worker’s lives in jeopardy.”