Next week, Amazon is set to introduce better protection for workers in its warehouses and at Whole Foods stores. It follows Jeff Bezos admitting last month that it didn’t have enough face masks for workers.
As Reuters reports, Amazon will make face masks available for all warehouse workers (in the US and Europe) and employees at Whole Foods stores starting early next week. Just as importantly, no-contact forehead thermometers will be used at each site to test workers as they arrive for work. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will be automatically sent home. Amazon will only let them return if “they pass three days without fever.”
Anyone deemed fit enough to work will be monitored inside Amazon’s facilities using a combination of cameras and machine learning. Amazon is doing this to see if workers are remaining a safe distance apart from each other, but it’s unclear what will happen if they are unable to.
The masks workers will wear are surgical masks, not the N95 masks that are in such high demand right now. Amazon is donating any N95 masks it already has or receives in orders to health workers, or will sell them to the government at cost. Apparently millions have been ordered by the company, meaning Amazon could end playing an essential role in supplying medical staff with the masks they need to avoid catching COVID-19.
The combination of masks, monitoring, and temperature checks should have a big impact on reducing the rate of infections among Amazon’s employees. It follows multiple cases of coronavirus infections at Amazon’s delivery stations and warehouses in the US.