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Amazon Workers Have 'increased Risk Of Mental And Physical Illness' Expert Claims

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/amazon-workers-have-increased-risk-of-mental-and-physical-illness-expert-claims-8962304.html

Amazon workers could face an increased risk of "mental and physical illness", a leading stress expert has claimed, after being shown undercover footage of working conditions at one warehouse.

Night shifts can involve up to 11 miles of walking with staff expected to collect orders every 33 seconds, a BBC investigation has alleged.

Undercover reporter Adam Littler got an agency job at Amazon’s Swansea warehouse where he was employed as a 'picker'. He took a hidden camera with him to shifts for BBC Panorama.

Professor Michael Marmot, one of Britain's leading experts on stress at work was then shown the footage. He claimed the working environment combined "all the bad stuff at once".

He told the BBC: "The characteristics of this type of job, the evidence shows increased risk of mental illness and physical illness.

"There are always going to be menial jobs, but we can make them better or worse. And it seems to me the demands of efficiency at the cost of individual's health and wellbeing - it's got to be balanced."

Countering the claims, Amazon said the safety of workers was its "number one priority".

It said official safety inspections had not raised any concerns and an independent expert employed by the firm had advised that picking at Amazon is "similar to jobs in many other industries and does not increase the risk of mental and physical illness".

Pity Dickens isn't around he could perhaps set a story within an Amazon warehouse... Do other similar jobs require a worker to pick every 33 seconds, I'm guessing this is a particular monotonous task with few breaks for hours on end? Anyone worked in one of these roles, is it as bad as being made out here or is it an exaggeration?

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Some people, particularly women, seem to enjoy spending hours pushing trollies around large buildings and collecting products for free. Start paying them for it and they get ill. :unsure:

I would rather pay a flat cost per item picked. It would eliminate the alleged stress element and allow the hardest workers to reap the biggest rewards.

I wonder if robots will ever replace 'stress experts'

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/amazon-workers-have-increased-risk-of-mental-and-physical-illness-expert-claims-8962304.html

Pity Dickens isn't around he could perhaps set a story within an Amazon warehouse... Do other similar jobs require a worker to pick every 33 seconds, I'm guessing this is a particular monotonous task with few breaks for hours on end? Anyone worked in one of these roles, is it as bad as being made out here or is it an exaggeration?

Worked at Index part time (got evils from full time bods) just before Christmas once upon a time, picking was bonus related - reach a target = more money. Now it seems to be reach target or you're out.

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I once did a picking job in the body shop warehouse. Was way more low tech and less stressful than amazon was made out to be.

When there is an excess of labour, companies will always try and squeeze as much as they can out of people as they can.

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This was my first job. Well, a 'picker' at Cambridge uni press.

It was great. Exercise all day long. Free from office politics. Listen to music throughout. We even had lawyers who chose to do some casual work there it was so free of any mental effort whatsoever. Bit of a relief from the stress of most jobs.

Yes, there were some people who took it a bit seriously. But it was more the type of person than the job. The kind who would get stressed out in any role.

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/amazon-workers-have-increased-risk-of-mental-and-physical-illness-expert-claims-8962304.html

Pity Dickens isn't around he could perhaps set a story within an Amazon warehouse... Do other similar jobs require a worker to pick every 33 seconds, I'm guessing this is a particular monotonous task with few breaks for hours on end? Anyone worked in one of these roles, is it as bad as being made out here or is it an exaggeration?

Its not exactly difficult. They will be listed in location order. Does it take you 33 seconds to put a ketchup in your trolley and another 33 seconds to find the brown sauce and put that in there too?

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Its not exactly difficult. They will be listed in location order. Does it take you 33 seconds to put a ketchup in your trolley and another 33 seconds to find the brown sauce and put that in there too?

I suppose it depends on how far there is between them, how high they are stacked, the weight of the trolley and the weight of the item.

I would suggest that until you have done the job it would seem quite easy, but in actuality isn't.

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I wonder how much they get paid.

Couple of years ago Cambridge uni press moved out of Cambridge and outsourced to DHL in Rushden IIRC.

Casual wages went from £10.50ph to NMW...nice example of wage deflation. Although 6.50 in rushden will buy you a lot more house than 10.50 in cambridge.

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I suppose it depends on how far there is between them, how high they are stacked, the weight of the trolley and the weight of the item.

I would suggest that until you have done the job it would seem quite easy, but in actuality isn't.

yes; we should close the Amazon and go back to this. because before Amazon all the jobs were much better:

CCC_Camp_BR-27_Minidoka_Project,_Burley,_Idaho,_%22Foreman_Graham%27s_crew_digging_toe_trench_and_laying_toe_rock_on..._-_NARA_-_293524.jpg

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I suppose it depends on how far there is between them, how high they are stacked, the weight of the trolley and the weight of the item.

I would suggest that until you have done the job it would seem quite easy, but in actuality isn't.

I can usually pick faster than most of our warehouse staff and do it all day long. As has been mentioned I do quite enjoy the brain dead nature of it in comparison with a normal day.

I can't see how this sort of job is any different to screwing on wing mirrors on a car production line before the car moves off on the conveyor.

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yes; we should close the Amazon and go back to this. because before Amazon all the jobs were much better:

CCC_Camp_BR-27_Minidoka_Project,_Burley,_Idaho,_%22Foreman_Graham%27s_crew_digging_toe_trench_and_laying_toe_rock_on..._-_NARA_-_293524.jpg

It does stink somewhat of the independent doing a hachet job on 'evil tax evaders' amazon. Yes, its an entry level manual job. You should probably try for something else after a while. Its OK for a year or two though. There seems to be some misplaced view with people like the professor that everyone wants to be a brain surgeon and if they arent the dreaded 'alienation' occurs. The reality is most people are actually quite at ease with doing work that doesnt strain them mentally...most would probably have a nervous breakdown if they actually had to do something more involving than repetitive factory work.

Edited by Executive Sadman

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It does stink somewhat of the independent doing a hachet job on 'evil tax evaders' amazon. Yes, its an entry level manual job. You should probably try for something else after a while. Its OK for a year or two though. There seems to be some misplaced view with people like the professor that everyone wants to be a brain surgeon and if they arent the dreaded 'alienation' occurs. The reality is most people are actually quite at ease with doing work that doesnt strain them mentally...most would probably have a nervous breakdown if they actually had to do something more involving than repetitive factory work.

I did this and I did not like it. Amazon would be 10x better:

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I did this and I did not like it. Amazon would be 10x better

How do you know Amazon would be 10x better if you've never worked there?

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Anyone worked in one of these roles, is it as bad as being made out here or is it an exaggeration?

In the 1990s I worked evenings at a pharmaceutical wholesalers. Job was a bit similar to this - push a trolley around a warehouse, pick stock from the shelves as indicated by the dot matrix printed invoices and place them into the trolley.

In the first year we were required to keep a tally of all items picked so performance was monitored that way. Can't say that anyone lost their jobs by not fulfilling a specific quota. Management were awful to most but I didn't get much crap from them as I stayed under the rador, kept my head down, mouth shut and got on with it.

The Amazon method of giving it's pickers a timer seems totally dehumanizing, as is that bleep when the wrong item is scanned. Watching Panorama, it seemed to me that a large quantity of the supervisors' time was monitoring with staff performance. I would readjust their roles so that their main focus was sorting out problems with customers' orders, supply chain, etc. I also get the impression that the supervisors too are fed up and sick of the Amazon system o work.

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Its not exactly difficult. They will be listed in location order. Does it take you 33 seconds to put a ketchup in your trolley and another 33 seconds to find the brown sauce and put that in there too?

How does the picking system work though, is it picking stuff the most efficiently from Az point of view or from the workers? It might involve more leg work to make it more efficient for the next part of the operation. I'd guess there would be some trolleys with the stuff close together, and others with it further apart. if the guy is walking 11 miles pushing a trolley I'd doubt if it's following the rack in the most efficient way for the worker the whole time.

It might take 33 seconds to find the ketchup if it's over the far side by the pampas.

edit: as others had said it's going the way of robots/automated more and more anyway. So in what 5 - 10 years time most of it will be automated. same for many more other jobs and wipe out half of middle men managers most likely.

we can then all become luvies and go into acting/art/culture/personal aids for the rich and so on. (can't we ?) or maybe a good war will help.

Edited by motch

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How does the picking system work though, is it picking stuff the most efficiently from Az point of view or from the workers? It might involve more leg work to make it more efficient for the next part of the operation. I'd guess there would be some trolleys with the stuff close together, and others with it further apart. if the guy is walking 11 miles pushing a trolley I'd doubt if it's following the rack in the most efficient way for the worker the whole time.

It might take 33 seconds to find the ketchup if it's over the far side by the pampas.

edit: as others had said it's going the way of robots/automated more and more anyway. So in what 5 - 10 years time most of it will be automated. same for many more other jobs and wipe out half of middle men managers most likely.

we can then all become luvies and go into acting/art/culture/personal aids for the rich and so on. (can't we ?) or maybe a good war will help.

Amazon's operation generally isn't super-efficient they would probably be better using staff to pack products in standardised boxes, where they can't force suppliers to do it. These machines save masses of labour. The only argument for not implementing something like this for DVDs would be their own foreseeable obsolescence as a product.

We've got software that batches orders then sorts for most efficient picking and processing. Rather than orders spewing out as they come in it saves say ten separate trips to one picking face by getting all ten items at once. There's also an element of sorting into delivery area that has be done after the packing stage which can also be made more efficient by batching.

I have seen some incredible warehouse operations though. One I visited, staff all rode electric picking trucks virtually controlled by very sophisticated software. When goods came in on pallets and were removed from the lorries, and placed in a numbered grid before being put away, if it was nearer/quicker to get the product from there the computer would automatically redirect the picking truck to the pallet of fresh stock just arrived. On some fast moving products the pallet of delivered stock would disappear entirely negating the need to be put away in racking at all (which itself was automated)

What Amazon really doesn't seem to do well enough on is moving on a step from the traditional retail model. Basically someone, who has to be paid, picks the product in a similar manner to in a shop. Then another member of staff wraps it in a similar manner to a cash and wrap counter in an old department store and they then pay a carrier to ship it. Even with reduced rent, rates and an offshore tax status it doesn't seem enough to sustainably leverage against a traditional retail model unless they automate massively soon. Every time I see a Daily Mail picture of a new distribution centre they've opened the only bit of automation is a conveyor for tote bins and they're in a high bay warehouse structure yet almost everything is ground level picking with the height above wasted.

Edited by SNACR

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If Az's automation and efficiency is not really up to scratch they're relying on pushing their workers as close to 100% as possible knowing they can replace them easily enough?

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Most of the people I've seen complaining about Amazon's horrible, awful, working practices also believe Thatcher was a monster for refusing to let men continue to dig coal in cramped, dark mines where they died of lung disease in their forties.

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Most of the people I've seen complaining about Amazon's horrible, awful, working practices also believe Thatcher was a monster for refusing to let men continue to dig coal in cramped, dark mines where they died of lung disease in their forties.

Think coal mining had moved on a bit from the 1800s.

How would you feel about the Amazon workers unionising?

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You cannot argue with the Damik - he is all seeing all knowing ;)

Damik is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate. (From the Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy.)

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