Amazon warehouse staff warned not to touch shipments for 24 hours

Amazon's extended closures could disrupt the finely balanced network of the business, slowing sales to consumers who choose to skip stores and buy online instead.

by Hari Aditya

Updated: Apr 09, 2020 10:56 IST

Tags: World Corona
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Don't Touch for 24 Hrs

A manager at an Amazon.com Inc warehouse in eastern Pennsylvania gave a strict alert to his staff last week regarding managing packages from another coronavirus-affected Amazon facility: Do not touch them for 24 hours. "As a precaution surrounding Covid-19 concerns, a directive came in today to let ALL loads from AVPI sit for 24 hours prior to opening/receiving," the manager said in an email reviewed by Bloomberg. "Please do not process any AVPI trailers before the 24-hour mark."

The AVPI warehouse in Hazle Township is among dozens of Amazon facilities where employees were diagnosed with Covid-19, including a Staten Island warehouse where protests were staged by workers. But in Amazon's sprawling logistics network, the cluster of at least 21 positive tests at AVPI appears to be one of the most serious. With several employees now terrified of going to work, the organization fails to hold the plant open and orders running. Wednesday the Workplace Safety and Health Department said it is launching an inquiry into working practices at AVPI.

According to Marc Wulfraat, a researcher who studies the activities of the business, AVPI is one of ten such warehouses in Amazon's US distribution network, a significant cog in the smooth running of the logistics system of the online retailer. Amazon's extended closures could disrupt the finely balanced network of the business, slowing sales to consumers who choose to skip stores and buy online instead.

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