Amazon opens Etna doors to share coronavirus safety measuresMay 23, 2020
Derek Hotchkiss, General Manager of the Etna Amazon Fulfillment Center, has Licking County ties.
Because of that, he says he takes the safety of his Amazon associates and the larger community even more personally.
“I grew up in Licking County,” Hotchkiss said during a May 21 invited tour of the Etna facility. “I came back by choice. Leading this group is very personal to me. I take their safety very seriously.”
While state orders have closed most businesses and retail operations for several weeks, Amazon has maintained services, helped prioritize acquisition and shipping of necessary items in the midst of the pandemic, and actually significantly increased its employment rolls.
See also: Downtown Newark survey shows public uneasy about reopening
It has done all that while grappling with ways to impose safety measures to protect the health of Amazon employees.
Amazon opened its doors in Etna Thursday afternoon for a first-hand look at how the west Licking County facility is working to combat COVID-19 spread.
Temperature checks, masks; lots of cleaning & distancing
Upon arrival, Amazon associates immediately have their temperature taken by thermal cameras trained on faces, close by the entrance.
If the sensor indicates a temperature of 104 degrees or higher, a handheld device is then used to again take the temperature. If a fever is detected, the associate is sent home, which has indeed been the case for some Etna associates.
More: Report: Another Amazon warehouse worker dies from COVID-19 bringing total to 8
As soon as an employee is given a thumbs up of an okay temperature, they are handed a fresh mask they wear at all times, except when eating in a socially distanced break room.
Throughout the facility, from break and training rooms, to human resources areas, social distancing is the rule. Training rooms with far-apart desks are limited to 10 people per room.
Pathways are clearly marked throughout the center to facilitate travel at safe distance from one another.
Amazon has created “social distancing ambassadors” and distancing managers positioned throughout the plant who exclusively work to monitor and encourage proper social distancing. Cameras, also, record the physical position of people moving inside and flag incidents in which people come within more than six-feet of one another.
Overall, the strategies in place at the Etna facility, and replicated at other facilities, are an example of a technology company using technology and artificial intelligence to keep workers safe, Hotchkiss said.
In the course of a week, 2,500 people work in the Etna facility.
Some doors have been taped open to reduce frequent touch points by all those hands.
Crash bars and turnstiles are covered in an adhesive antiseptic wraps that are regularly changed. Individual work…