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Amazon’s head of workplace safety will leave next month, a report says

by SuperiorInvest

A worker sorts packages at an outbound dock at an Amazon distribution center in Eastvale, California, on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

Watchara Phomicinda | MediaNews Group | The Riverside Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

AmazonThe company’s top workplace health and safety official will leave the company next month, CNBC has learned.

Heather MacDougall, who joined Amazon in 2019 from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is leaving the company on Oct. 7, according to a memo Amazon Chief Operating Officer John Felton wrote to employees Monday.

“After more than three years with us as an important member of our leadership team, Heather has decided to pursue other opportunities outside of Amazon,” Felton wrote in a release seen by CNBC. “I want to thank her for her many contributions and wish her the best of luck on the next step in her journey.”

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed MacDougall’s departure.

During a pivotal period, MacDougall oversaw the health and safety of Amazon’s global workforce of more than 1.5 million employees. In early 2020, as Covid-19 spread rapidly and caused businesses and office buildings to temporarily close, Amazon’s warehouse and delivery workers continued to report for work as consumer demand for fast delivery surged.

Employees criticized the company’s response to the coronavirus, arguing it wasn’t doing enough to protect them at work, and Amazon has faced widespread scrutiny of injury rates in its warehouses. Employees, labor groups and lawmakers have complained that the company prioritizes speed over safety, putting employees on higher risk of injury than opponents. Concerns about safety in the workplace are one of the main impulses lately organizational wave in Amazon warehouses.

Amazon disputed reports of unsafe working conditions. During MacDougall’s tenure, the company set ambitious goals to reduce injuries, including plan cut recordable incidents, OSHA’s measure of injury and illness, in half by 2025. Last year, Amazon made the commitment to become “Earth’s Best Employer” and add it to its list of corporate values, even as labor unrest intensified.

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

MacDougall also forged relationships with prominent security organizations to improve Amazon’s security image. In June 2021, Amazon and the National Safety Council he announced a partnership that will focus on reducing sprains and strains commonly experienced by warehouse workers.

Becky Gansert, who serves as vice president of global specialty fulfillment, will replace MacDougall as head of global workplace safety and health. Gansert will also oversee Amazon learning and development teams tasked with, among other things, “improving the everyday experience” of warehouse and delivery workers.

“Safety and the overall employee experience are priorities that are intricately linked, and Becky is uniquely qualified to move us forward on both,” Felton said.

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