Editor, UBM

June 15, 2016

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Health and safety at Amazon EU

Amazon is one of the biggest online-retail operations in the world, and with such a vast array of distribution centres, offices and locations, the challenges for keeping workers safe and healthy are many.

amazon_logo_col_RGBAhead of next week’s Safety & Health Expo, where Amazon are delivering a presentation about Safety in Amazon EU, within the brand new Training and Career Zone, Graham Finn, director of environment health and safety at Amazon SARL, spoke to SHP editor Roz Sanderson about employee empowerment, and why Amazon is coming to Safety & Health Expo this year.

RS: Amazon has a number of different locations and centres around the UK, what are the challenges of managing the health and safety of workers in distribution centres, offices, and customer services?

GF: Across our EU operations we are focused on ensuring we have a safe and rewarding working environment for all our associates.

We focus our health and safety efforts in four key areas:

  • Continually reducing physical risk through the design of equipment and work areas;
  • Applying high standards of housekeeping each day;
  • Improving capabilities through training and coaching with a skills for life approach to handling etc; and
  • Management reporting systems focusing on driving continuous improvement and a pro-active approach to risk reduction.

By taking this approach we are able to reduce risk, increase consistency, improve systems and provide all our employees with the skills they can use within and outside of our business.

RS: As any other retail organisation, there must be peak times during the year where extra staff need to be taken on. How is the health and safety of temporary, seasonal workers managed and ensured?

GF: All our EU buildings utilise a standardised Daily Housekeeping Audit process to ensure the same measures and practices are being observed by the operation throughout every department/area in our fulfillment centres and across the EU Network.

Over 600 of these audits are conducted each week across 31 buildings, looking at issues ranging from general cleanliness and area readiness, through to the state of repair of equipment in use in each area.  This focus helps us to ensure that our associates safety and welfare is constantly in mind and that access to emergency equipment and exits is not hampered in any way.

This audit mechanism also empowers employees of all levels to take ownership of their work environment, effectively identify and document opportunities to immediately rectify a situation, and is also a mechanism via which to escalate situations that may require a more considered response; creating an environment of continuous improvement.

Audits are tracked at a site, regional and EU level and the findings and corrective actions taken are reported upon and shared across the network in order to most effectively realise the opportunities to share learnings and best practice. This means regardless of the time of year we are focused 100% in this area all of the time.

RS: Why is Amazon supporting the careers zone at Safety & Health Expo this year?

GF: It is our ethos that we have to continuously develop in all operational areas and have established an excellent team of safety professionals across our European network.  We are here to help explain our passion for safety in our European operations and highlight the fantastic career opportunities we have available.  We are keen to support and develop people interested in careers in this arena.

RS: Part of the careers zone at Safety & Health Expo is to encourage young people to consider health and safety as a first career. In your opinion why is this important and what makes health and safety an attractive career?

GF: A career in safety is an exciting opportunity for anyone that wants to add value to a business and create positive actions to ensure that incidents and injuries are prevented.  People sometimes have the perception that safety is not a progressive, value-adding activity, but here at Amazon we challenge that view.

Great safety is a core value. With a developed EHS job family and a clearly defined route for progression from someone who is new to work through to an experienced safety professional we have developed an open, progressive, safety career pathway.

Many of our EU and UK safety team members have worked through the ranks – starting in an hourly role, learning the business and safety profession through completing recognised qualifications such as NEBOSH qualifications.  We also have graduate safety professions and team members who have joined Amazon Safety later in their career.

The key aspect is the fact that our programme is pro-actively focused, utilising team member’s capabilities to drive engagement and generating win-win situations where everyone goes home safe, while also offering better and better service to our customers.

A career in Amazon safety is dynamic and fast paced and offers fantastic career progression opportunities – we will have team members at the event who can share their experience directly and answer any questions that people considering a career in safety might have.

Graham Finn is Director of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) at Amazon SARL, based in Luxembourg. In this role he leads the Amazon EU EHS teams and functions, driving safety improvements and ensuring compliance to Amazon policy, procedures and regulatory standards.   

Prior to Amazon EU Graham held EHS Exec level roles in Food Manufacturing and Distribution, Chemicals, Pharmaceutical, and Oil industries. He is a Corporate Member of IOSH and holds diploma qualifications in HS and Environmental Science, along with an array of industry specific qualification and training. 

Graham Finn will be delivering a presentation on Safety in Amazon EU, discussing the journey to date, employee identity within Amazon and the vision for the future of Amazon EU. Register for Safety & Health Expo today and make time to visit Amazon at stand V1850.

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Shabbir Halai
Shabbir Halai
6 years ago

An interesting article and one I never thought I would see to be honest. The only stories I have ever heard from friends and colleagues (both here and in Germany) regarding Amazon staff is how badly they treat them. Its good to hear that Amazon do actually have the systems in place then to ensure safety at work.

1 year ago
Reply to  Shabbir Halai

Exactly. The article is excellent, however inside the FC the story is different, in some UK FC if you happen to have the wrong nationality, they won’t really Care much about your health and safety, or well being.