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‘Hell for Us’: Amazon Workers Are Melting Under Heat Dome

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the dangerous working conditions faced by workers, especially those working outdoors or in Amazon fulfillment centers, during the record-breaking heat wave gripping the Midwest and Northeast. It highlights the efforts of unions and lawmakers to push for legislation to protect workers from excessive heat, and the responses from Amazon regarding their heat mitigation measures.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Dangerous Working Conditions During Heat Waves

1. What are the dangerous working conditions faced by workers during the heat wave?

  • Outdoor workers and those in Amazon fulfillment centers are facing extreme temperatures with little to no reduction in their fast-paced, physically demanding routines
  • Temperatures in some Amazon warehouses have reached 92 degrees Fahrenheit in trailers and 83 degrees in other areas of the buildings
  • Workers have reported heat rashes, passing out, and being denied requests for fans or rotation of duties to lighten the load

2. What are the efforts to push for legislation to protect workers from excessive heat?

  • A bill proposed by New Jersey State Senator Joe Cryan would require employers to provide cold water, rest breaks, and postpone non-urgent tasks during heat waves
  • The bill defines "excessive heat" as a heat index of 80 degrees or higher outdoors or indoors when employees are present
  • Advocacy groups like Make the Road New Jersey are rallying for this legislation to protect workers, especially those in indoor facilities like Amazon warehouses

3. How has Amazon responded to the criticisms about working conditions in their warehouses?

  • Amazon claims it is one of the few companies to provide air conditioning in its warehouses and has various other cooling measures in place
  • The company says it trains employees on preventing heat-related illnesses and encourages them to take cool-down breaks as needed
  • However, some employees report issues with malfunctioning fans, lack of water, and pressure to maintain productivity despite the heat

[02] Concerns About Heat in Amazon Facilities and Delivery Trucks

1. What are the concerns about heat in Amazon facilities and delivery trucks?

  • Workers at an Amazon air cargo center in Kentucky have reported issues with lack of water, malfunctioning air conditioning in vans, and pressure to not take breaks despite high temperatures
  • Last year, workers at an Amazon warehouse in North Carolina claimed temperatures were too hot even during the winter, leading to employees being hospitalized
  • There are concerns about the impact of mandatory overtime and increased workload during Amazon Prime Day sales on worker safety and health

2. How has Amazon responded to these concerns?

  • Amazon denies the claims, stating that it has industry-leading heat mitigation programs and technology across its network, including air conditioning in warehouses and delivery vans
  • The company says it monitors temperatures, provides hydration stations, and allows employees to take breaks as needed
  • However, some workers report issues with management not always advising them to take required heat breaks or addressing problems with malfunctioning equipment
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