The Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call has an investigation (actually, from September, but someone just linked to it today) of work conditions at Amazon's warehouse in Lehigh Valley, which reads a lot like the New York Times investigation of the FoxConn plant in China that makes Apple devices. The newspaper reports, based on interviews over two months with "20 current and former warehouse workers who showed pay stubs, tax forms or other proof of employment":
During summer heat waves, Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat stress. Those who couldn't quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals.
This could make Amazon seem brutal — It was so hot in the warehouse they had to station ambulances nearby! — but one might also look at it as conveying that Amazon, by providing the medical personnel, was demonstrating at least some concern for the workers' health.
The same applies to this passage:
During a July heat wave, Rivas said he felt he was going to faint. He went to an air-conditioned room for about half an hour and got drinks from safety workers in the warehouse.
"Then they said if you feel better you should go back to work," Rivas said. "I was surprised that it happened to me because I heard the horror stories, but I never was a part of one. It was surprising to me. I thought they would treat their employees better."
Again, this could make Amazon seem brutal — It was so hot in the warehouse the worker had to stop before he fainted! — but one might also look at it as conveying that Amazon, by having on-site "safety workers" dispensing drinks in an air-conditioned room, was demonstrating at least some concern for the workers' health.
High up, the article makes it sound like the company and its temporary worker provider would not comment: "Amazon and ISS both said they take the safety of workers seriously, but declined to discuss specific concerns current and former employees voiced to The Morning Call. Both companies had three weeks to respond to multiple Morning Call inquiries for this story." But when you read much lower in the article, you realize that Amazon did in fact respond:
Amazon spokeswoman Michele Glisson emailed a statement, which she attributed to Vickie Mortimer, general manager at the Upper Macungie warehouse.
"The safety and welfare of our employees is our No. 1 priority at Amazon, and as the general manager, I take that responsibility seriously," Mortimer said. "We go to great lengths to ensure a safe work environment, with activities that include free water, snacks, extra fans and cooled air during the summer. I am grateful to work with such a fantastic group of employees from our community, and we partner with them every day to make sure our facility is a great place to work."
The snacks reportedly included ice cream and ice pops.
My usual disclosures when writing about Amazon apply: I own some shares in competing retailers. I also write books, and Amazon is a major player in the book business. This site is an Amazon affiliate, which means if you buy something from Amazon after reaching their site via a link from this site, this site gets a percentage of the revenue from the sale, at no additional cost to you.