WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — Elected officials are calling on Amazon to strengthen protections of its workers after several news reports said some Amazon delivery drivers are being pressured into unsafe practices like working long hours without a break and speeding.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said Amazon needs to change its ways.
“Too many contract workers end up injured on the job, or worse,” Brown said.
Brown is disturbed by recent stories in the New York Times and Buzzfeed News, alleging unsafe working conditions for some Amazon delivery drivers.
“I know that Amazon doesn’t want to live under labor laws that most other workers live under, but they’re going to be such an important part of the economy they need to start living up to labor law, in terms, in terms of decent pay, decent benefits and keeping their workers safe,” Brown said.
The reports said some delivery drivers were involved in deadly accidents and forced to work long hours.
But the drivers aren’t Amazon employees, and instead, work for private companies contracted by Amazon.
Brown said Amazon needs to demand better from the companies it hires.
“Amazon has not yet, although we keep pushing them, shown any real interest in anything but the bottom line,” Brown said.
Amazon said it has a strong safety record, including “numerous safeguards for our delivery service providers.”
But as the so-called “gig economy” continues to expand, safety experts said companies have to consider protections for all workers.
“To really think about how we extend the safety of the work that’s being done on our behalf, not only to our employees but for anybody who is doing work for us,” said Lorraine Martin from the National Safety Council.
Brown said he also sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, asking about worker protections, but has yet to hear back.
Amazon did release the following statement to Nexstar Friday afternoon:
“Amazon is proud of our strong safety and labor compliance record across our transportation network of employees and contractors, and we continue to drive improvements that benefit our transportation providers, our customers and the public. We have strict requirements for safety and labor wages and working conditions that meet or exceed the law. We also require comprehensive insurance, competitive wages, working hours and numerous other safeguards for our delivery service providers and regularly audit to ensure compliance. Safety is and will remain Amazon’s top priority as evidenced by the vast percentage of deliveries that arrive on time and without incident.”