Amazon attempts to build Covid-19 test lab for workers


Amazon confirmed in a blog post posted on April 9th that they have started to build a testing lab. Amazon confirmed that ‘a team of Amazonians with a variety of skills – from research scientists and program managers to procurement specialists and software engineers – have moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative.’

Amazon plan to begin testing a small number of staff on the frontline soon but admit they are unsure of how far they will get in the relevant timeframe. Amazon feel it’s important for them ‘try and share anything they learn with others’.

The positive announcement from Amazon seems to be in response to negative publicity surrounding Amazons failure to protect employees from Covid-19. On March 30th The Guardian reported that more than 100 Amazon workers went on strike at a New York City facility following reports of a number of employees testing positive for Covid-19. Business Insider also reported that Amazon workers in Italy are also striking in outrage at the firms response to staff contracting Coronavirus.

The Financial Times reported that over 50 Amazon owned facilities have confirmed cases in the US. Amazon has praised their employees as heroes helping people get the products they need delivered to their doorsteps, products they might not otherwise be able to get while maintaining social distancing. Amazon claim to have made over 150 significant process changes at sites around the world to ensure the health and safety of their teams. Their operations sites and grocery stores are distributing masks to employees and conducting employee temperature checks.

In the UK the government have set out good practice for employers during the Coronavirus outbreak asking employers to:

  • Keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure to Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the workplace
  • Ensure employees who are in a vulnerable group are strongly advised to follow social distancing guidance
  • Ensure employees who are in an extremely vulnerable group and should be shielded are supported to stay at home
  • Make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  • Make sure managers know how to spot symptoms of Coronavirus (Covid-19) and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in all case someone in the workplace is potentially infected and needs to take the appropriate action
  • Make sure there are places to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, and encourage everyone to do so regularly
  • Provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff and encourage them to use them

In the US the first lawsuit for wrongful death as a result of Coronavirus complications has been filed by a Walmart employees family. Will Amazon be the next?