Amazon’s Bezos Tours Warehouse as Worker Safety Concerns Linger

April 9, 2020, 12:17 AM

Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos made a surprise visit Wednesday to a company warehouse near Dallas, one of more than 100 sites around the U.S. where employees are toiling to meet a surge in online orders from customers sheltering at home.

Photos of the world’s wealthiest man donning a face mask, jeans and a button-down shirt circulated on social media. He can be seen walking beneath conveyor belts and beside yellow bins. Some warehouse workers in masks took a moment to get selfies with their boss.

Other employees wrote on social media that the executive failed to adhere to social-distancing guidelines put in place to limit the spread of Covid-19. In one image, he is followed closely by another person.

Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the photos. Bezos was in the Dallas area Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to disclose Bezos’s location.

Read more: Amazon Warehouse Warned Staff Not to Touch Shipments for 24 Hours

Bezos has maintained a fairly low profile through the crisis compared to other tech CEOs such as Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook. Bezos posted an MSNBC clip to his Instagram account on Wednesday that heralded an Amazon warehouse worker as its “Hero of the Day.” He also recently announced a $100 million donation to Feeding America to help meet demand for food at a time when donations from restaurants and other shuttered businesses are dropping.

Amazon has emerged as an indispensable service during the Covid-19 pandemic. Customers can avoid crowded stores by ordering essentials online, though the retailer is taking weeks to deliver some items and many must-have products including toilet paper and hand sanitizer are out of stock. The company in March announced plans to hire 100,000 workers and give temporary pay bumps to meet surging demand.

Amazon employees around the country have staged protests and walkouts to highlight their concerns about working conditions, including a lack of social distancing, protective gear, hand sanitizer and not enough time to clean their hands.

The company has said it is enforcing social distancing guidelines in its facilities, checking employee temperatures at the start of shifts and stepping up cleaning. Amazon stresses it has enough masks and hand sanitizer for employees at all its facilities and staff can wash their hands without it jeopardizing their performance. Only a small number of workers have participated in protests, the company has also said.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Spencer Soper in Seattle at ssoper@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Alistair Barr at abarr18@bloomberg.net

Jillian Ward

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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