Legislators are asking Amazon to take occupational safety seriously in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic

Mar 29, 2020 12:40 AM ET

After several alarming reports of Amazon’s poor response to the Covid 19 pandemic, U.S. lawmakers are demanding responses to how the world’s richest company wants to protect its employees.

in the a letter to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon On Friday, Senator Bernie Sanders and representative Ilhan Omar pressed for details on how to implement the e-commerce giant’s health guidelines to curb the spread of the virus. A dozen other members of the house have also joined the investigation.

To date, at least 10 Amazon warehouses have recently reported cases of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel outbreak of the coronavirus Washington Post report. That includes one in queens Earlier this month, Amazon resumed business after a brief disinfection phase after an employee there tested positive for the virus.

“Even before the severe global health crisis, these facilities have been proven to violate high health and safety standards, and Amazon has not provided substantive responses or solutions to these violations.” Legislators wrote. “With the company announcing plans to hire 100,000 new warehouse workers and introduce mandatory overtime, we are increasingly concerned that Amazon does not have an adequate internal plan to prepare and respond to pandemics.”

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Sanders and Omar were dissatisfied with the company’s “vague” responses to the distance and asked for details about the company’s emergency plan and how to implement it Social distance guidelines from the disease control and prevention centers, including whether workers have the time and tools they need to use best practices to maintain their health.

“We ask you to step up your efforts to protect the health and safety of your warehouse workers. No employee, especially those who work for one of the richest companies in the world, should be forced to work in unsafe conditions, ”wrote the legislator.

It is not the first time that lawmakers have raised such concerns. Earlier this month, Sanders sent a letter to Amazon, along with Senators Cory Booker, Robert Menendez, and Sherrod Brown, citing warehouse workers’ claims that they had no access to hand disinfectant and disinfectant wipes, and should continue to attend crowded staff meetings despite the CDC to stay at least one meter apart to curb the spread of the virus. Employees have also raised the alarm about how to risk reprisals if they follow basic hygiene habits at work The odds are not adjusted to allocate time for hand washing at the frequency recommended by the CDC.

Amazon has made these allegations regarding occupational safety. “just unfounded, ”Although related complaints have more than spurred us on 1,500 Amazon workers sign a petition asking the company to improve its emergency plan.

In response to Friday’s letter to GizmodoBrian Huseman, Vice President of Public Policy at Amazon, made a statement detailing the company’s updated sick leave policy and improvement in hygiene Precautions.

“We have taken a number of preventive health measures to keep our buildings extremely clean and to help employees take important precautions such as social distancing, frequent hand washing and other measures,” wrote Huseman. This also includes increasing the frequency and Intensity of the warehouse cleaning as well as new requirements of the employees for hand washing and Disinfection of their workplaces, according to the statement.

Previously on Amazon paid emergency leave was only available to employees who received a positive Covid 19 diagnosis, a task that may be easy elsewhere but got complicated by widespread test defects here in the US In his response, Huseman implied that these requirements could be relaxed in the future.

“Amazon works with employees to collect the information we need to approve an additional paid leave for quarantine and / or diagnosis of COVID-19 . . . In the future, this information may include a self-report of symptoms and exposure patterns, especially if the employee cannot get a medical certificate at all, ”he said wrote.

Amazon hourly employees can now Huseman added that he could enjoy unlimited unpaid free time until the end of April need an income to pay for food and bills.

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