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June 27, 2016

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Amazon safety and health principles set out.

“We’re probably unique in terms of the numbers of people we have in our buildings,” Amazon’s Director of EU EHS, Graham Finn, told the final morning’s Safety in Amazon EU session at Safety and Health Expo last week.

The company’s ‘speed of process’ was probably also unique, he said, the result of its strong focus on customer experience. “Our leadership principles are not just a pretty wall hanging,” he stated, adding that a number of these were key for safety.

The organisation had a ‘customer fulfilment network’ with more than 120 ‘fulfilment centres’ across the globe, he told the session. These were “complex and fast-moving environments”, 31 of which were in Europe, across seven countries, and with thousands of employees. “Continuous improvement in safety is a passion of the business,” he said.

Amazon safety

In terms of its safety vision for the future, Amazon wanted to be “the best place to work for all skills and expertise levels”, he stated. “We insist on high safety standards and we automise wherever possible.” The company invested extensively in risk-reduction technology such as vehicle wheel locks, and was “passionate about housekeeping” with daily auditing and significant investment in training.

“We have a temporary workforce for peak demand periods, and we invest in training and follow-up to make sure everyone understands. It’s about engagement.” Managers regularly initiated individual conversations with staff to get feedback about risks and resolve potential issues early on, he said. This involved electronic forms that had to be completed to set frequencies, always with different staff, and had a set period of at least ten minutes for each audit.

“Listening to our associates and having a co-ownership attitude to safety is vital,” he said. “It’s about a proactive approach – how well we’re able to engage people, and how confident we’re able to make managers to have those conversations.”

The company now also had automated safety metric reporting, a bespoke audit programme, and a ‘skills for life’ approach to safe handling that people could apply outside of work, he said. “We give our managers tools so they don’t worry about 130 things. They can focus on the six or seven that are important to them instead.

“We work hard, but people have the ability to influence and change our business,” he continued. “Our buildings are very busy, but there’s a can-do environment. Innovation helps us to stop injuries as well as to do the best for our customers. Getting safety right is good for business.”

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