Last year, state regulators determined that working in an Amazon warehouse is more hazardous than being a logger or a meatpacker. Now, workplace safety watchdogs have found the company is breaking the law and causing injuries at Amazon’s Pierce County warehouse by forcing an unsafe pace of work on its employees.
The problem is not unique to Washington. Amazon workers all across the country are complaining about the high-risk environment created by the company’s productivity expectations. Amazon has responded with lots of PR and various efforts to ameliorate the problem, including “AmaZen” mindfulness exercises and signs scattered around the warehouses telling workers to eat better. Thus far, the number of injuries seems to be rising, not falling.
Amazon obviously should do better. Perhaps the efforts to fix the problem are sincere, but they do not get to the core of the problem and that is the obsession with speedy delivery. If the retail giant wants to keep shortening delivery times, maybe, instead of demanding an ever more frenzied, backbreaking pace from the current workforce, it should bring in reinforcements — additional employees. It is not like this monumentally successful company is hurting for money.
Another thing all of us might do to help is back off our ridiculous expectations. Do we really need that new gizmo or piece of apparel to arrive almost as soon as it is ordered? Do we have no patience or no capacity to plan ahead? Maybe, if we consumers would just relax a little, Amazon workers would have a chance to catch their breath.
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