The world is watching the dedication and courage of Amazon workers hour by hour each day through this crisis. Amazon management has clearly taken notice of their importance and provided wage increases. Still, without more safety protections at these warehouses, Amazon workers are becoming more worried about their health and the health of their families in these uncertain times. To protect against work accidents involving Covid-19, Amazon workers at distribution and fulfillment centers were informed via text message on Sunday that it was recommended that they wear a mask to work. Most people would presume that Amazon would be supplying the masks, but as it turns out Amazon only has a limited number of masks. When an employee wants a mask, the employee has to ask managers for a mask. The text message set out the following information to employees:
“Your health and safety is most important. We recommend everyone wears a facemask of some kind covering their nose and mouth from arrival through departure of your shift. We will have facemasks in limited quantities for anyone entering the building to wear as a recommended preventative measure, and if you prefer you may bring your own mask, including fabric masks. We have teams working nonstop to continue sourcing supplies, including masks, and are working hard to stay in stock with masks during this event. If you would like a mask, please ask a manager or designated “Hand-out POC” at the start of your shift. The mask should be used by one person for the shift and not be shared. You must also know how to use it and dispose of it safely. Details will be posted around the site.”
As with other recent concerning aspects of inadequate job safety and training at fulfillment and distribution centers, many Amazon workers are deeply concerned that the company is focused more on production than well-being and work injuries, especially given the recent hiring increases that serve as a reminder that the non-union workforce at Amazon is replaceable in management’s eyes.
Dozens of Amazon workers in New York City have contracted the Coronavirus and have begun striking. The same thing has taken place at the Amazon facility in Chicago, Illinois located at 28th and Western. One of the key demands with the strikes taking place is for worker protections against infection, including shutting down the facility to sanitize it. While companies like Amazon have fought unions for years, it is clear that the company is losing ground fast as reasonable demands by their workers are gaining public support. Time will tell if work stoppages at Amazon facilities in places like Monee, Joliet, Elgin, Lisle, and Romeoville help to slow down the already alarming number of workers’ compensation claims being filed by Amazon workers.
Katz Friedman is currently representing many injured Amazon employees in work injury cases against their employer and will continue to investigate claims being made by Amazon employees for all injuries whether it takes place from lifting, slipping and falling, or contracting Covid-19. When making decisions regarding a work injury sustained while working at Amazon or for Amazon Flex, it is wise to consult an attorney to protect your interests because it is clear that the company already has their lawyers working on it by wrongly claiming that Amazon warehouse and distribution workers can receive workers’ compensation benefits, but its Flex workers cannot.
If you or someone you know works for Amazon and has suffered injury due to a motor vehicle crash or work injury, the attorneys and staff at Katz Friedman are here to help with obtaining proper compensation.