NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Amazon is trying to improve safety at warehouses across America by setting a goal to reduce injuries in years to come.
In the past six months, reports have surfaced detailing a high injury rate at the retail giant's many distribution centers across the country.
The general manager in the warehouse in Lebanon Tennessee, Adam Mangrum, showed off new safety measures Thursday.
"Every employee that comes in goes through several hours of training on process, safety and quality," said Mangrum. "We have a lot of powered industrial trucks, a lot of pit equipment. Each time that someone gets on that. before they're allowed to get on it, they have to go through 10 hours of training including practical."
The warehouse, which is known as BNA2, is more than a million square feet and has more than 1,000 employees. There are many different roles to fill at the factory as packages are picked from shelves, boxed and sent out to customers across the Middle Tennessee area and elsewhere.
Yellow guiding paint lines nearly every corridor with stop signs placed at many intersections where warehouse vehicles and staff often intersect. Mangrum made a point to showcase a new feature called Working Well. It's essentially a kiosk where an instructor shows employees how to move boxes while reducing injury risk. An Amazon spokesperson also said the employees perform mindfulness exercises every hour.
Safety signs can be seen everywhere around the factory, and many of the vehicles operate along guided wire systems buried underground.
Despite all of the safety features though, it's been reported that Amazon has twice the number of serious injuries in the warehouses where an employee has to miss work.
Data from Reveal News shows the cases of injuries getting worse from 2016 to 2019.
Mangrum said some of the training policies were changed due to workplace injuries.
"We piloted this program in 2019,2020, we saw a 32% decrease in MSDs, muscular, skeletal disorders. As we improve the program we hope to see those numbers increase," he said.
Another warehouse in Mt. Juliet is expected to open this summer with jobs similar to the Lebanon facility. The jobs pay $15-$18 to start and more than a thousand should be available.
Mangrum said there's work to do in the safety department of the warehouses.
"I would say one injury is too many. We're doing it to make sure that we're taking care of people regardless of the past. We're doing things to mitigate anything in the future."