Monday, April 23, 2018

DO NOT sacrifice employee safety for productivity

Photo by Milo McDowell on Unsplash
The Verge reports that workers at an Amazon distribution facility are “forced to pee in bottles or forego their bathroom breaks entirely because fulfillment demands are too high.”

While this is horrible, and demeaning, it’s still just employees peeing in bottles. It’s not THAT big of deal? Right?


For starters, as I’ve previously discussed, OSHA mandates that “employers allow employees prompt access to bathroom facilities,” and that “restrictions on access must be reasonable, and may not cause extended delays.”

Thus, denying employees bathroom access (either directly or functionally) in the name of “getting the job done” (or otherwise) almost certainly violates OSHA.

More critically, however, suppose instead of bathroom breaks we’re talking about the removal of guarding on a piece of industrial equipment. Yes, you can make more widgets more quickly without guarding. But, your employees like leaving work with the same number of fingers and toes with which they came to work. And you should prefer that, too.

Safety is safety, whether it’s bathrooms or guarding or anything else.

If an employer is cutting safety corners on the small stuff, it’s probably a safe bet that it’s cutting corners on the bigger stuff.

At the end of the day, no one wins when employers sacrifice employee safety in the name of increased productivity.