September 30, 2022
Amazon’s workplace safety chief will leave next month, memo says

A worker sorts parcels at the outbound dock at an Amazon fulfillment center on Tuesday, August 31, 2021 in Eastwell, California.

VARCHAR FOMISCINDA | MediaNews Group | Riverside Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

Amazon’s top executive overseeing workplace health and safety is leaving the company next month, CNBC has learned.

Heather McDougall, who joined Amazon in 2019 from the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, is leaving the company on October 7, according to a memo Amazon chief of operations John Felton wrote to employees on Monday.

“After building with us for more than three years as a valued member of our leadership team, Heather has decided to pursue other opportunities outside of Amazon,” Felton wrote in the memo. “I want to thank him for his many contributions, and I wish him well on the next step in his journey.”

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed McDougall’s departure.

McDougall oversaw the health and safety of Amazon’s global workforce of more than 1.5 million employees over a critical period. In early 2020, as COVID-19 spread rapidly, causing the temporary closure of businesses and office buildings, Amazon’s warehouse and delivery workers continued to work as consumer demand for faster delivery. had increased.

Employees have criticized the company’s coronavirus response, arguing it was not enough to protect them at work, and Amazon has faced widespread scrutiny over the injury rate at its warehouses. Workers, labor groups and lawmakers have complained that the company prioritizes speed over safety, putting employees at a higher risk of injury than rivals. Workplace safety concerns are a major impetus behind the recent event wave at Amazon warehouses.

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Amazon has disputed reports of unsafe working conditions. During McDougall’s tenure, the company set ambitious goals to reduce injuries, including plans to cut recordable incident rates, an OSHA measure covering injury and illness, in half by 2025. Last year Amazon committed to becoming “earth’s best employer.” Its corporate values ​​list, even as labor unrest has intensified.

Prior to his tenure at Amazon, MacDougall served two terms as head of OSHRC, a federal agency charged with reviewing workplace health and safety disputes between employers and the Department of Labor. He was appointed by the Obama administration in 2013 to lead the agency.

McDougall also forged ties with high-profile security organizations to burnish Amazon’s security image. In June 2021, Amazon and the National Security Council announced A partnership to reduce the sprains and strains commonly faced by warehouse workers.

Becky Gansert, who serves as vice president of global specialty fulfillment, will replace McDougall as head of global workplace health and safety. Gansert will also oversee Amazon learning and development The team, which is charged with “improving the everyday experience” of warehouse and delivery staff, among other tasks.

“Safety and the overall collaborative experience are priorities that are intricately linked, and Becky uniquely deserves us to move forward with both,” Felton said.

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