Amazon opens its doors to answer health and safety criticisms
Online retail giant Amazon has opened its UK warehouses to the public, following criticisms about unsafe working conditions.
Reports in the press and complaints by unions of strenuous working conditions and frequent ambulance call-outs for injured and sick workers has caused Amazon to react by allowing members of the public and journalists to visit warehouses to see conditions for themselves.
Amazon has refuted all claims that it is unsafe to work in its warehouses, and that workers have strict performance targets that cause stress. The company is not on its own in being criticised, with other warehouses that process online and retail orders also under fire. In 2016, Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct, gave evidence to a parliamentary committee about working conditions in his firm’s warehouses.
The UK regional safety manager of Amazon, Rob Burnett said:
“You hear horror stories about people working to insane targets, but in reality, people are working at their own pace.”
There are targets, but Amazon says they are based on what a warehouse can perform overall rather than aimed at individual workers. Much of the work is done by robots, who save human workers walking long distances to pick orders.
When companies are accused of having harsh working conditions this can result in some customers refusing to purchase from them. To counteract false impressions, they can invite customers into the workplace to see how employees use PPE (personal protective equipment) and follow strict safety protocols.