Our society has begun to revolve around consumer needs, depending upon the speediness of one-day delivery and keeping up with the ever-changing system of the latest trends. The pressure placed on staff working in Amazon’s warehouses has been highlighted previously by the Channel 4 undercover series Dispatches: Secrets of Amazon. The constant demand of sales and profit has been said to affect the workers as they face intense scrutiny. It has been suggested that the health and welfare of Amazon workers has become second to their performance on the job.
The GMB union has released 240 reports that showed the dangerous conditions of the Amazon workplace and the cases of serious injuries or near misses. These figures have been said to contradict a recent Amazon advert named ‘Work Hard’ which depicts warehouse staff happily working, which some have said paints a false image of the corporation.
The reports may not have even included every case of injury as they must fit into a certain list and category. For a case to be included the injury must be serious enough to stop a worker from performing their job for more than seven days or be on a list including fractures, amputations, crushing, scalping or burning. Some of these cases have included a London warehouse worker who lost consciousness and stopped breathing after being hit on the head, and a Manchester worker fracturing their hand as it was caught in a gate. Another Amazon warehouse in Rugeley saw cases relating to pregnancy or maternity problems and major traumas.
However, Amazon is not the only retailer to face this kind of scandal, as JD Sports, ASOS and Sports Direct have also faced similar accusations. A JD Sports warehouse in Rochdale and an ASOS warehouse in Barnsley were reported to see one emergency medical visit per week. These conditions are often spread across sectors, with staff working in dangerous conditions for little pay as one third of workers are unable to keep up with cost of living. The lives of workers are constantly dictated by macroeconomics and consumer needs as profit becomes the sole focus. Many of these incidences are excused due to the scale of their operations.
Some feel these corporations have been disregarding not only morals, but the law set in place to protect both the employees and the employers. The Health and Safety At Work Act of 1974 is the primary piece of legislation that covers health and safety within the workplace. Its focus is: ‘securing the health, safety and welfare of persons at work’ as stated by the Act’s preliminary on the legislation.gov website.
The act states that the general duty of the employer is to ensure the safety and welfare at work of their employees. It is possibly important, therefore, that we ask ourselves whether the needs of the consumer are being placed before the safety and wellbeing of the workers who produce our purchases.
Image: via flickr.com