WASHINGTON, DC. – Today U.S. Senators Cory Booker (DN.J.) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) urged Amazon on workplace safety ahead of the holiday shopping season. The letter comes after continued worrying reports of unsafe working conditions at Amazon facilities across the country, most notably the tragic deaths of three workers within three weeks at Amazon facilities in New Jersey earlier this summer. Additionally, reports have shown that Amazon warehouse injury rates increased 54% in New Jersey and 20% nationally from 2020 to 2021.
“As this pattern of insufficient response from Amazon continues and the impact is apparent, it is all the more important for Amazon to address the heightened security concerns during the busy consumer holiday season.” The senators wrote to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. “In 2019, a report found that Amazon employees were five times more likely to suffer serious injuries than the national average for all private industries.5 Rafael Mota, an Amazon worker at a Carteret facility, was the first of three Amazon workers in New Jersey to die this summer. His staff reported that Rafael had asked to place fans at the facility near them, a request that was denied hours before his death. This death occurred on Prime Day, the biggest “deal event of the year.” Data from 2019 shows that Amazon was acutely aware of the risks associated with Prime Day, and internal reports warn that warehouses in New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Connecticut are “with an increase in injuries at everyone during Prime Week.” Calculate locations”.6 Eleven days after Rafael’s death, an Amazon employee died at a facility in Robbinsville, New Jersey, a location with documented health and safety violations.7 The following week, another fatality occurred at a delivery station in Monroe, New Jersey. This is disgusting”
“Reporting suggests that conditions for Amazon workers are deteriorating and not in line with industry norms, leading to ongoing federal investigations and litigation across the country.” continued the senators. “Indeed, OSHA has an ongoing investigation into hazards at Amazon warehouses in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Tennessee, Washington and nationwide. Under OSHA law, employers have a legal obligation to provide a workplace free of hazards that could cause serious bodily harm or death. We urge you to proactively implement policies to improve conditions in the meantime.”
Specifically, the senators urged Amazon to:
- Promptly implement paid, comprehensive workplace safety training for all employees, including temporary workers, independent contractors and all other employees performing duties for Amazon;
- Take steps to improve warehouse ventilation and air quality, including through facility upgrades and investments, including new or enlarged air conditioners, fans and opening windows.
- Improve shift rotation so workers do not work for long periods of time near significant indoor heat sources, including large machinery such as boilers, or engage in non-stop high-level aerobic activity.
- Permit and encourage workers to cool down in the cool areas as a precautionary measure if they deem it necessary to protect themselves from overheating and such access must be permitted at all times.
- Address the sky-high rates of MSDs in all operations by immediately conducting a safety analysis to identify the ergonomic hazards and implementing workplace design changes that reduce the risk to workers.
- Provide injured workers with an appropriate and timely medical referral for medical care and ensure that the delays in care identified by OSHA in its investigations of the New Jersey Robbinsville facility no longer exist and that all medical workers are within their statutory area of activity.
- Hire enough workers to allow all workers to have a decent time off with their families.
During his time in the Senate, Senator Booker has spearheaded efforts to address concerns about workplace safety. In particular, in 2020 related to the coronavirus pandemic, he sent a letter to Amazon, the US Postal Service and Walmart.
The full text of the letter can be viewed here.