Amazon Vice President of Workplace Health and Safety, Heather MacDougall, discusses the importance of educating employees about health and safety protocols

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Amazons Heather MacDougall discusses health and safety

Amazon's Heather MacDougall discusses health and safety

 September 02, 2020

Heather MacDougall is the Vice President of Workplace Health and Safety at Amazon.

She shares her thoughts about how Amazon has remained ahead of the curve in working to keep employees safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Investing in new health and safety processes

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon, like many organizations, jumped into action to try to keep its 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," Heather explains.

Implementing new processes and protocols

Heather explains how Amazon kept its fulfillment centers running smoothly and safely during the pandemic to ensure continued delivery of products to customers. Over 150 major process changes were put in place because "nothing is more important to us than keeping our hundreds of thousands of people safe," she adds.

"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," she says.

Training employees in these new processes

Heather details the health and safety protocols that trained employees on how to use the equipment and processes keeping them safe. 

"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," she says. 

"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."

Health and safety is a number one priority

For Heather, these efforts, which Amazon has scaled across its 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," she adds.

"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."

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