Belinda Liversedge visited Amazon’s Tilbury warehouse to find out more about the working conditions, wellbeing and safety.
“Does any of this look frantic? This is the busy day of the week. Everyone’s spread out,” says Robert Burnett, Amazon health and safety manager, as he gestured towards an empty- looking Tilbury warehouse shop floor. He is keen to show that, contrary to the claims of high targets and stress, it’s hard to see any of that here. Though the workers (called ‘associates’) do seem to be working at a normal pace dressed in casual clothes, the bigger impression is that it’s hard to see anybody at all in the cavernous warehouse space.
Tilbury is a ‘ninth-generation’ warehouse, fitted with the latest systems and technology. It runs 24 hours a day, manned by 2,500 workers (double that number on Black Friday and Christmas) together with robots across a two million square foot space – about 28 football pitches. Even without the robots, the machinery is a big presence, with goods being transported into and around the space on16 miles of airport-style conveyor belts and down the levels of floors on helter-skelters. The impact is mesmerising and bewildering in equal measure.
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