From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon, like many organizations, jumped into action to try to keep our associates safe by avoiding virus transmission at work. Amazon sprinted to invest in new processes, personal protective equipment, technology, time off benefits, and intensified cleaning methods to keep people safe. Since the early stages of the outbreak, Amazon has been ahead of the curve in adopting new procedures based on the best available science. We’ve worked closely with world health and safety experts and scientists to understand the virus and prevent its spread. Many of our procedures go beyond legal requirements and government guidance, and we have rapidly implemented new safeguards, sometimes on a daily basis, as new information about the virus became available. We have shared many of the ways we have changed our processes since the start of the pandemic, and today we want to share with you how we have trained and continue to train our teams around the world about how to stay safe at work and home.
At Amazon, our global operations business is where the magic of delivering products to customers happens. It's in our fulfillment centers that packages move from suppliers to delivery stations and eventually to customers. All along the way there are more than 800,000 people making sure we get deliveries to customers on time. We hired nearly 175,000 new people in the U.S. alone to help keep our services running during the pandemic. Nothing is more important to us than keeping our hundreds of thousands of people safe.
When COVID-19 started, over the course of 60-days, we put in place—and scaled globally—more than 150 major process changes to help ensure our teams stayed safe and healthy while at work. We’ve rolled out and improved even more safety protocols in months since. For example, we enhanced cleaning, staggered shift times to maintain social distancing as employees entered and exited the building, rearranged work stations and breakrooms to facilitate social distancing, provided masks to our employees (everyone is required to wear a mask), conducted thermal screenings and temperature checks so all individuals are screened before entering our buildings, and more. We also piloted new efforts, like targeted disinfectant spraying, to supplement the enhanced cleaning measures already in place.
That’s a lot to make sure people understand, follow, and pass on to others.
To make sure our employees understand how to use all the equipment and processes designed to keep them safe, we moved quickly to implement new ways of training people on an ongoing basis about safety both at work and outside of work. It's been our mission to make sure we’re constantly educating about new health and safety protocols.
There are many ways we do that. Starting from the first day on the job, new Amazonians go through Virtual New Hire Orientation, which includes a segment called "Working at Amazon during COVID-19." This goes through the details of how to comply with social distancing, including staggered breaks, shifts, and lunches, floor tape, and distance markers to make sure associates stay at least six feet apart. It includes information about access to cleaning products, both for Amazon’s professional cleaning crews and for people to use in the own work areas; deep cleaning, including frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces—eight times per shift—and the expectation that at the start and end of each shift Amazonians wipe down their own workstation and the equipment they use on a daily basis; protective measures at work including instruction on how to properly put masks on and remove them; handwashing, including when, how often, and how to do it; daily temperature checks, both contactless and thermal; and staying home due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, exposure, or symptoms. It also covers additional protective measures taken by specific Amazon locations, including fulfillment centers and delivery stations.
After orientation, training continues multiple times a week with routine reminders delivered through a number of mediums, including text messages and newsletters, messages in the A to Z employee app, TV screen messages, alerts when logging on to a workstation, e-learning modules, and wall posters in restrooms, breakrooms, and other common areas. Employees also receive other COVID-19-related training based on their job duties, including training modules on temperature screening and mask distribution. Employees with work station computers also receive "Safety Reminders" that appear every day when they log in, which they are required to view before their computers will allow them to begin working. The reminders include several messages relating to COVID-19 safety, including washing hands frequently, disinfecting frequently touched objects such as scanners and work stations at the start and end of a shift, and staying home if they are feeling sick. Managers also regularly convey messages regarding COVID-19 safety procedures in socially distanced meetings with small groups of associates, which are logged by scanning employee badges.
One of the decisions we made early on was to reallocate people from other jobs around the world explicitly for the purpose of being Safety Ambassadors at our sites to help people through these important changes and to constantly audit and remind about compliance. We’ve created posters and notices on workstations about frequent hand washing and safe mask wearing, taped the floor of our facilities to show what six feet/two meters social distancing looks like, made process changes like how to enter and exit buildings safely (with time clocks now at least six feet apart and with markers on the ground in front of time clocks and anywhere else employees may form a line), launched staggered shifts to prevent congestion, and laid down colored tape that indicates where to walk or sit during breaks.
Other ways we help employees understand and remember all of these important safety steps include:
- Our “Distance Assistant” technology uses 50 inch monitors throughout our buildings to show green or red circles around people who are getting too close, reminding them in real time to move further away
- Social Distancing Ambassadors promptly address and coach anyone who’s not following social distancing rules
- Managers and supervisors advise and coach associates about safety during shift
- We send regular emails, newsletters, and text messages to convey important safety instructions
We also audit all these processes and ask employees for feedback, then use that information to try and continuously improve. And we take compliance seriously—if an employee repeatedly or intentionally violates our safety procedures, we'll move quickly to address it and terminate them if necessary.
As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic is a public health crisis because the virus has been widespread in communities. So, we also educate associates on how to mitigate COVID-19 safety hazards in public and at home in order to help reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 infections in the workplace.
These efforts, which we’ve scaled across Amazon's global network, are important to keeping our environment safe. We're continually learning and reinforcing protocols through a variety of channels to ensure all our associates understand and abide by our safety procedures.
The health and safety of our employees is Amazon’s number one priority—and has been since day one. We'll continue to invest, evolve our procedures and collaborate with others as we’ve done during the COVID-19 pandemic, to keep it that way.