Amazon Prioritizes Employees’ Safety With $300M Investment

New program aims to cut recordable incident rates by 50% by 2025
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Amazon Prioritizes Employees’ Safety With $300M Investment
Amazon operations leaders and small groups of employees gather near workstations and watch short interactive videos on rotating topics created by health and safety professionals and injury prevention specialists.

In its mission to become “Earth’s Safest Place to Work,” Amazon has launched WorkingWell, a new program providing employees with physical and mental activities, wellness exercises, and healthy eating support that are scientifically proven to help them recharge and re-energize, and ultimately reduce the risk of injury.

Similar to other fulfillment jobs, about 40% of work-related injuries at Amazon are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which include sprains or strains caused by repetitive motions, and they’re more likely to occur among newer employees, many of whom might be working in a physical role for the first time. Pilots of the WorkingWell program have reduced these injuries and have had a positive impact on regular day-to-day activities for employees outside of work. According to the company, this program — along with other company initiatives focused on early MSD prevention — helped decrease MSD-related injuries by 32% from 2019 to 2020.

By the end of 2021, WorkingWell will expand to cover all of Amazon’s operations network in the United States, with the aim of cutting recordable incident rates by 50% by 2025. The program is part of the company’s $300 million investment on safety projects in 2021.

Creating a healthy workplace to help squash claims of high workplace-injury incidents will aid Amazon in attracting new employees as it is looks to hire at least 75,000 workers across its U.S. fulfillment and transportation networks, which would surpass the company's 1-million-worker mark this year.

Amazon has indicated that it works closely with health and safety experts and scientists, conducts thousands of safety inspections each day in its buildings, and has made hundreds of changes based on employee feedback to improve their well-being at work, including development of the WorkingWell program.

“Amazon has identified some innovative technologies and approaches to address employee well-being and the implementation of training and wellness programs in their facilities,” said Jennifer McNelly, CEO of the Park Ridge, Ill.-based American Society of Safety Professionals. “The occupational safety and health community thrives on sharing innovations, best practices, and lessons learned. We look forward to Amazon continuing to share ideas and information about these new methods and approaches to improve workplace safety in the United States and globally.”

WorkingWell has a number of components, each of which was developed in collaboration with Amazon employees, covering training and conditioning, wellness services, and technology, including the following:

Scientifically proven health and safety education and exercises

Health and Safety Huddles: Daily opportunities to engage employees on strong body mechanics, wellness topics and ongoing safety education. Operations leaders and small groups of socially distanced employees gather near workstations and watch short interactive videos on rotating topics created by health and safety professionals and injury prevention specialists. Topics rotate on a monthly basis and range from gripping and handling, pushing and pulling, nutrition, and more.

Wellness Zones: Provides employees with voluntary stretching and muscle recovery via easily accessible, dedicated spaces within Amazon’s operations buildings. These areas incorporate interactive videos and written information to help employees proactively improve their health and wellness in areas like body mechanics, wellness topics like best practices in stretching, and ongoing safety education.

AmaZen: Guides employees through mindfulness practices in individual interactive kiosks at buildings. During shifts, employees can visit AmaZen stations and watch short videos featuring easy-to-follow well-being activities, including guided meditations, positive affirmations and calming scenes with sounds.

Comprehensive and critical health-and- wellness services

Wellness Centers: Amazon-staffed spaces dedicated to preventing injuries and illness through preventive self-care and health and safety education, as well as first-aid treatment in case of injury. First-aid trained on-site medical representatives and certified athletic trainers called injury prevention specialists bring diverse backgrounds to these centers to deliver on-site safety and wellness care to operations employees.

EatWell: Developed to support the overall nutritional health and well-being of employees by promoting healthy eating. On-site breakrooms feature signage to highlight healthy choices such as fruit, granola bars and vegetable snack packs. The company has also increased the selection of healthier options in breakrooms.

Neighborhood Health Centers: Offers Amazon employees and their families quality, convenient and affordable health care within 10 miles of where they work and live. In partnership with San Clemente, Calif.-based Crossover Health, these focus on acute, chronic and preventive primary care health needs with a wide range of services. Examples include prescription medication services, vaccinations, mental health, physical therapy, health coaching for conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and care navigation to specialty referral services, as well as same-day pediatric services.

Using technology to connect with employees in buildings and at home

Mind & Body Moments: Hourly prompts that employees receive at their workstations, guiding them through a series of scientifically proven physical and mental activities to help recharge and re-energize, and ultimately reduce the risk of injury. These activities, designed to reduce muscle and mental fatigue, range from various stretching recommendations to breathing exercises and mental reflections.

Connect & Comment Kiosks: Gathers employee feedback to help drive improvements to current WorkingWell components and ideate on future offerings. These kiosks also give employees an on-site location to access wellness services and content.

WorkingWell Mobile App: Will soon provide at-home access to all of the on-site safety and health-and-wellness offerings in Amazon buildings, including AmaZen, EatWell, and Mind & Body Moments.

“Amazon takes our safety very seriously, and my managers have made it clear to me it’s more important than anything, even productivity and quality,” said Jeffrey Ku, operations employee at an Amazon fulfillment center in Aurora, Colo. “WorkingWell is an extension of that — it makes sure we’re taking care of our minds and bodies. It encourages us to make positive changes to how we work, and since I started watching the program’s health and safety videos, I’ve incorporated a stretching routine into my day.”

The WorkingWell team will continue to elicit feedback and ideas from employees, and use the science of safety to solve problems and establish new industry best practices to keep employees healthy and safe every day.

Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on Progressive Grocer’s 2020 PG 100 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods, wholly owned by Amazon, is No. 24 on PG's list. Robust consumer demand kept Amazon in record-setting territory during the first quarter as the company logged a 44% year-over-year revenue increase and profits more than tripled to $8.1 billion.

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