NY Eyes Amazon, UPS With New Warehouse Safety Regulations

The regulations are designed to protect workers from unreasonable quotas, which advocates say boost injury rates at Amazon.

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Laura Hautala
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Regulators have also attributed high injury rates at Amazon to a company quota system for workers.

James Martin/CNET

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Warehouse Worker Protection Act on Wednesday, codifying restrictions on the use of demanding quotas for workers fulfilling orders for Amazon, UPS and other logistics companies. 

Under the law, companies like Amazon with warehouse operations will be required to disclose quota requirements to workers. The law also aims to prevent warehousing companies from firing or disciplining workers for failing to hit quotas that haven't been disclosed or don't allow for legally required breaks.

Hochul said she was proud to sign the bill into law "as we celebrate the holidays with gifts and packages."

The law comes as holiday shopping reaches its peak in the US. Amazon's pace of work has been the subject of criticism from advocates and workplace safety regulators, who say the company's quotas lead to higher injury rates than at other warehousing companies. Regulators in the state of Washington have fined the company for injuries they directly attributed to punishing quotas, with Amazon appealing the decision. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating working conditions at Amazon warehouses around the country, as well as a string of deaths at Amazon warehouses this summer. 

In a statement, Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said Amazon agrees with the goals of the new law but believes it's based on a misunderstanding of the company's policies. 

"Amazon does not have fixed quotas at our facilities," Nantel said. "Instead, we assess performance based on safe and achievable expectations and take into account time and tenure, peer performance, and adherence to safe work practices. While we know we aren't perfect, we are committed to continuous improvement when it comes to communicating with and listening to our employees and providing them with the resources they need to be successful."

UPS didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said in a statement that the union supported the bill because a lack of regulation of warehouse companies left workers vulnerable to injuries.

"Unsafe work speeds, unreasonable work quotas, dangerous work, and insufficient breaks all contribute to the skyrocketing rate of injuries and sickness in the warehousing industry," Appelbaum said.