Inland Empire Amazon workers release new survey data showing major concerns among workers about heat and poor response to injuries from managers.
SAN DIEGO – Warehouse workers from the Inland Empire testified before the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board about the urgent need for indoor heat protections for workers in physical occupations and workers released new data that shows heat illness is a top concern for warehouse workers.
“Heat illness often goes undetected until it’s too late,” said Anna Ortega, who works at an Amazon warehouse in San Bernardino. “And it can impact everyone, it doesn’t matter how healthy you are. The solution is simple – it’s rest, breaks from physical work and access to water, but even that is a struggle to get sometimes. California can protect workers like me, especially as our state gets hotter.”
In 2016 the California Legislature passed SB1167 which called on the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to draft new standards by January 2019. Nearly, four and a half years later the Cal/OSHA Standard Board held its first hearing on the proposal.
“In a warming climate, the hazards posed by heat in the workplace are only growing. Every year, workers in warehouses and many other indoor workplaces face serious heat illness risks without adequate protection,” said Tim Shadix, legal director for the Warehouse Worker Resource Center. “California needs a clear standard for training, rest, cooling periods, access to water and maximum temperatures so that employers have clear guidance and expectations for protecting workers.”
In a survey released today conducted by Inland Empire Amazon Workers United of workers at the Amazon air hub in San Bernardino, about 84% (strongly agree, 74%; slightly agree, 10%) of workers indicated needing water, a cool place to rest, and recovery time during the summer heat. Workers who testified at the hearing, delivered a copy of the report to the members of the Board.
Over half (52%) of the survey participants have been injured at the Amazon facility. Of the survey respondents who reported an on-the-job injury, over half reported the injuries to their supervisors. Of the workers who reported an injury to their supervisor, only 34% were satisfied with the employer’s response to their injury.
Amazon workers at KSBD who did not report injuries to their supervisors shared in their responses a fear of retaliation, and instances of being questioned, or not being believed by their employer if they reported their injury.
“When you are working in a physical job, it is easy to get overheated,” said Sara Fee, who works at the Amazon air hub. “Without clear guidelines for protecting workers from heat illness, we are not safe. These companies aren’t protecting workers on their own.”
About the WWRC
The Warehouse Worker Resource Center is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), organization founded in 2011 dedicated to improving working conditions in the warehouse industry in Southern California. We focus on education, advocacy and action to change poor working conditions in the largest warehousing hub in the country.