The news: Amazon is launching a new employee wellness program called WorkingWell, designed to provide activities, exercises and support to reduce the risk of injury for hundreds of thousands of workers across the tech giants operations facilities.
About the plan: Developed in collaboration with employees from within Amazon operations, aspects of WorkingWell were first piloted in the U.S. in 2019 and the program has since expanded to 859,000 employees at 350 sites in North America and Europe.
There are a number of components to the program covering training and conditioning, wellness services, and technology. Here are some of the highlights, as described by Amazon in a news release on Monday:
- Health & Safety Huddles: Daily opportunities to engage employees on strong body mechanics, wellness topics, and ongoing safety education.
- Wellness Zones: Provides employees with voluntary stretching and muscle recovery via easily accessible, dedicated spaces within Amazons operations buildings.
- 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 wellbeing activities, including guided meditations, positive affirmations, calming scenes with sounds, and more.
- Wellness Centers: Amazon-staffed spaces dedicated to preventing injuries and illness through preventative self-care, health and safety education, as well as first-aid treatment in case of injury.
- WorkingWell Mobile App:Will soon provide at-home access to all of the onsite safety, health and wellness offerings in Amazon buildings.
- EatWell:Developed to support the overall nutritional health and wellbeing of employees by promoting healthy eating and increasing the availability of healthier options.
Addressing workplace injuries: Amazon says itsinvesting more than $300 million into safety projects in 2021 and the aim is to cut recordable incident rates by 50% by 2025.
The company says 40% of work-related injuries at Amazon are musculoskeletal disorders which include sprains or strains caused by repetitive motions. Those injuries are more likely to occur among newer employees, many of whom might be working in a physical role for the first time, Amazon said.
That distinction is especially important as employee numbers surge across Amazons operations and fulfillment network. Amazon said last week that it plans to add 75,000 employees to its warehouse and logistics operations across the U.S. and Canada. In 2020, the company increased its already vast warehouse footprint by 50% and grew its headcount by 500,000 workers to keep up with online shopping demand during the pandemic.
Warehouse safety investigation: A September 2020 investigation by Reveal found that Amazon fulfillment centerswith robots have experienced significantly higher rates of human injuries in the past four years than those without them, supporting the theory that automation can require humans to work at unsafe speeds.
The report was based on internal Amazon safety records showing weekly data on injuries from more than 150 Amazon warehouses from 2016 through 2019. Reveal found a mounting injury crisis at Amazon warehouses, one that is especially acute at robotic facilities and during Prime week and the holiday peak and one that Amazon has gone to great lengths to conceal.