Watching Marla Corson walk through an Amazon warehouse with ease, talking with associates on the floor, you get the feeling she’s returned home. In a way, she has. She first worked at Amazon more than 10 years ago as a safety and health manager in New Castle, Delaware at the company’s first fulfillment center outside of Seattle. Corson said she enjoyed the role but left to get her doctorate degree at Purdue University in Energy Management and Systems Technology while continuing to work in the safety field.
“When we think about being the most customer-centric organization, we (also) want to be the most safety-centric organization in the world.””
Her desire to be on the leading edge of safety in the workplace brought Corson back to Amazon in 2017 as the director of Environmental Health and Safety for Amazon’s North American Fulfillment Centers (FCs). “I always thought if I have the opportunity to come back, I will. And part of the reason why is that we're so innovative. We're changing, we're growing, we're developing, and there's so much opportunity to actually do good things and right things for people,” she said.
Corson oversees safety, health, and environment at more than 40 Amazon robotic FCs in the U.S., and seven in Canada where associates pick, pack, and ship Amazon customers’ orders using industry-leading technology. “When we think about being the most customer-centric organization, we (also) want to be the most safety-centric organization in the world,” said Corson.
To make that happen in such a dynamic, fast-paced environment, safety is part of everyone’s responsibility as teams are encouraged to look out for each other. Here are five Amazon innovations and technology used to support associates and make their workplaces safer:
1. Safety Saves
Safety Saves increase associate involvement by identifying hazards and fixing them before a near miss occurs or someone is injured. Instead of writing down issues they see on a piece of paper and putting it in a file somewhere, they use a handheld device to log the hazard, and the rest of the floor is made aware in real time.
2. Robotic Tech Vest
The Robotic Tech Vest uses advanced sciences to draw an access path around the associate so the robots automatically slow down or update their route to avoid the area where he or she is working..
3. Trailer Docking and Releasing (TDR)
The TDR app for Fire tablets helps improve safety while associates are working in the trailer yard. TDR is a job at Amazon that only certified associates who have gone through training are allowed to do. Associates can use the Fire tablet to perform a series of checks before they let the trailer depart from the dock door.
4. Safety Campus
Safety Campus is an augmented reality program enabling new associates to do “hazard hunts” in a virtual fulfillment center so they can learn the hazards that can exist. For example, items that are not stored properly could be tripping hazards.
5. PIT Checklist
Amazon has begun testing new technology at some FCs that enable Powered-Industrial Truck (PIT) operators to use digital touchscreens when they sign in. The tech verifies the person has been properly trained on the equipment and takes them through a pre-operational checklist.
Recently, Amazon announced it would be investing $800 million to offer free one-day shipping to its Prime members. The misperception is that Amazon is so focused on delivering quickly for customers that fulfillment centers could become less safe places to work. Corson disagrees. “You can have both,” she said. “There are many things that we’ve actually changed in our operations through the use of technology that actually speed things up and make it safer for our associates, too.”
See Amazon’s dedication to safety for yourself by taking a tour of an Amazon fulfillment center. You’ll see how the amazing people and amazing technology come together to fulfill your order on Amazon.com.