Labor activists are calling out Amazon and Facebook over their treatment of workers in a new report.
The National Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health’s “Dirty Dozen” list identifies a handful of companies where workers have died or experienced mistreatment, including alleged sexual harassment, health complications, and safety violations over the past year.
Amazon earned a spot on the list because of six worker deaths in the past seven months and 13 since 2013. The report cites the fatal crash of an Amazon-branded cargo airplane in February and several warehouse worker deaths that occurred on the job. There are also references to the clip of negative news coverage portraying harsh conditions inside Amazon fulfillment centers, which power its e-commerce business. One story discovered nearly 200 calls to 911, over the past five years, from people inside Amazon warehouses who were worried about suicidal employees.
The labor group named Facebook to the list because of the content that moderators are required to screen, which includes violence, pornography, and hate speech. In February, The Verge reported on the mental and emotional toll of moderating Facebook content for abuse.
The organization solicited information about companies from its “network of health and safety activists” which includes local labor groups and occupational clinics to select the 12 companies in the report.
An Amazon spokesperson questioned the motives of the study in a statement provided to GeekWire:
The “Dirty Dozen” press release issued today should be taken with a giant grain of salt. The National Council of Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) is NOT a government entity, it is NOT a group of regulators, and it does NOT have any official understanding of the workings of an Amazon fulfillment center – that would be OSHA, the federal entity established by Congress on April 28, 1971. COSH is in fact a coalition of union organizations and parties with a business cause to undermine Amazon’s reputation through a clear campaign of misinformation.
Safety is our number one priority. While any serious incident is one too many, we learn and improve our programs working to prevent future incidents. Safety training and continuous improvement is something tens of thousands of Amazon associates and partner companies focus on every day. But don’t take our word for it; come see for yourself how safe it is to work in an Amazon fulfillment center by signing up for a tour. Kids 6 and up are invited. It’s that safe.
A Facebook spokesperson highlighted the resources content moderators receive on the job in a statement provided to GeekWire:
We are committed to working with our partners to provide support for those that review content as we recognize that reviewing certain types of content can be hard. Everyone who reviews content for Facebook goes through an in-depth, multi-week training program on our Community Standards and has access to extensive support to ensure their well-being and resiliency. We are also employing technical solutions to limit exposure to graphic material as much as possible. This is an important issue, and we are committed to getting this right.