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NEW NYCOSH REPORT “TIME OFF TASK” EMPHASIZES UNHEALTHY WORKPLACE PRACTICES AT AMAZON’S STATEN ISLAND DISTRIBUTION CENTER

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CONTACT:

Charlene Obernauer, NYCOSH

charlene@nycosh.org, cell: 631-524-3922

October 17, 2019

NEW NYCOSH REPORT “TIME OFF TASK” EMPHASIZES UNHEALTHY WORKPLACE PRACTICES AT AMAZON’S STATEN ISLAND DISTRIBUTION CENTER

New York, New York – The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) released a report today, “Time Off Task: Pressure, Pain, and Productivity at Amazon” that highlighted the company’s unhealthy workplace practices. The report was timed to be released on the anniversary of the Staten Island facility’s opening.

NYCOSH found:

  • 80% of workers were pressured to work harder or faster at their facility
  • 66% expressed experiencing physical pain while performing work duties
  • 42% continued to experience pain even when they weren’t at work

According to the report:

NYCOSH […] found that workers experience harmful working conditions and a workplace culture that prioritizes line speeds over human safety. Several workers expressed being evaluated and docked points for the amount of “time off task” spend in a day. “Time off tasks” refers to any break that a worker takes, excluding their legally required 30-minute lunch break. If a worker has too much time off task, they may be disciplined and are ultimately subject to termination for poor performance.

NYCOSH Executive Director and report co-author Charlene Obernauer stated, “This report shows that Amazon, which has been criticized for its company culture in other cities, is running its Staten Island facility without regard for workers’ need to be treated as people, not robots. You can’t expect workers to work safely when they are going to be docked points if they take a break for a sip of water.”

“‘Pressure, Pain, and Productivity at Amazon‘ is an eye-opening report documenting the pain suffered by the Amazon fulfillment center workers who are forced to work at dangerous speeds to ensure the packages Americans order arrive quickly” said Dr. David Michaels, former head of the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration and currently George Washington University School of Public Health Professor.

Debbie Berkowitz, Worker Health and Safety Program Director at National Employment Law Project stated, “The NYCOSH report is clear indication that workers are getting hurt at very high rates at the Staten Island warehouse. It is stunning that Amazon is not doing more to protect workers. The company has an obligation to provide safe conditions and make sure their workers are not sacrificing their health for company profits.”

“There is no reason — none — that a company like Amazon can’t do more to prevent the pain and suffering experienced by workers in its warehouses,” said Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). “The injuries documented by NYCOSH researchers can be prevented through a worker-centered ergonomics program, better staffing, and other measures that are well within reach for a company with billions in annual profits.”

“Amazon has pioneered world-class logistics and can move products around the country and around the globe in a matter of hours,” said Martinez. “Jeff Bezos and other company executives owe us some answers. If the company is truly committed to ‘operation excellence, why can’t they find a way to reduce injuries and fatalities?”

Download a copy of NYCOSH’s report online at https://nycosh.org/resource/amazon-workers-report/.

About NYCOSH: The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) is a membership organization of workers, unions, community-based organizations, workers’ rights activists, and health and safety professionals. NYCOSH uses training, education, and advocacy to improve health and safety conditions in our workplaces, our communities, and our environment. Founded in 1979 on the principle that workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths are preventable, NYCOSH works to extend and defend every person’s right to a safe and healthy workplace. For more information, visit nycosh.org, follow the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NYCOSH on Twitter.

 

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