Report: Amazon may have violated safety regulations

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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amazon employee wearing masks

A letter from the New York attorney general reportedly says Amazon’s response to COVID-19 in its New York facilities may not meet some legal standards.

According to Reuters, the office of New York attorney general Letitia James sent a letter to Amazon on Wed., April 22 stating that health and safety measures taken by the e-tailer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are “inadequate” to the point they potentially violate provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and that some Amazon warehouses should be closed for sanitization and disinfection.

The letter also reportedly said there are preliminary concerns that Amazon terminated Christian Smalls, an employee at Amazon’s Staten Island, N.Y., facility, in retaliation for Smalls publicly criticizing and demonstrating against health and safety conditions in Amazon warehouses. Amazon says it terminated Smalls for breaking a company-imposed 14-day COVID-19 quarantine after he came in contact with an infected coworker.

Amazon did not respond to a Reuters request for comment. However, the e-tailer has publicized a number of steps it has been taking to protect its fulfillment center, delivery, and brick-and-mortar store employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. The company has begun building incremental testing capacity for COVID-19, and is performing temperature checks on more than 100,000 employees per day across its entire U.S. and European operations network and Whole Foods Market stores. Any employee registering a fever over 100.4 must go home and is only allowed to return after going three days without a fever.

In addition, Amazon says protective face masks are available to employees in all locations. Amazon is also conducting daily audits of the new health and safety measures it has put into place and has assigned machine learning technologists to capture opportunities to improve social distancing in its buildings using internal camera systems.