Tulsa Employee: Amazon's Discipline Change Doesn't Go Far Enough

Jun 7, 2021

A Tulsa Amazon employee injured on the job doesn’t think the company’s recent change to its discipline system matters enough.

Amazon’s discipline system has come under increasing scrutiny since a release of data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. On June 1st, The Washington Post reported OSHA’s data shows workers at Amazon warehouses suffer injuries at nearly twice the rate as workers in similar jobs. 

Also on June 1st, Amazon announced it will alter its “time off task” metric. “Time off task” measures how long an employee is logged off their workstation. It’s been criticized as a cause of injury because it encourages workers to move too fast.

Amazon says the metric will now be cumulative rather than hourly, so that outlying breaks will not add up for employees as quickly.

Bobby Gosvener is an employee of Amazon’s warehouse in Tulsa. In December 2020, he suffered a herniated disc while dealing with a belt malfunction. He has undergone surgery.

Gosvener says the “time off task” change isn’t enough because it doesn’t get to the source of the problem: employees aren’t trained from the start to keep up with the physical demands of the job. He said supervisors aren’t really watching for safety, either.

“If they had their trainers on the floor, if they had their safety people on the floor and not in an office…they could interact, saying, ‘Hey, you need to lift this way versus that way, you’re gonna hurt yourself if you continue to go that way.’ All that could be interactive,” said Gosvener.

Later this year, Amazon is scheduled to open its third facility in Tulsa at Mingo Road and 36th Street North.

Gosvener cautioned anyone interested in working at Amazon in Tulsa to take the company’s safety record seriously.

“Are their family members going to move to this location? ‘Oh, I’ve got a job at an Amazon warehouse!’ By the way, in two months you might be injured because we didn’t implement what the safety department wanted to implement. We just look the other way because we’re making so much money.”

Amazon representatives did not respond to a request for comment.