Amazon gave iced scarves to warehouse employees to keep them working during the Seattle heatwave – but some staff reportedly left early because they couldn’t cope

Amazon warehouse
  • Some Amazon warehouse staff in Seattle left work early because of the heatwave, The Seattle Times reported.
  • One worker said some workstation fans weren’t working, and said Amazon had been “ill-prepared.”
  • But another worker, at a different warehouse, said staff got iced neck scarves to keep them cool.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Some Amazon warehouse workers in Seattle haven’t been able to cope with the huge heatwave hitting the Northwest, according to a report by The Seattle Times.

A worker at Amazon’s massive fulfilment center in Kent told the publication that Amazon had been “ill-prepared” for the weather, and that some staff left early on Sunday because they couldn’t handle the heat.

Temperatures reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit on Seattle on Sunday, and hit 108 on Monday.

The worker estimated that the temperature in the warehouse reached nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit by midday Sunday, The Times reported.

Some workstations didn’t have functioning fans, they told The Times.

An Amazon spokesperson told Insider that they company had installed climate control in its fulfillment centers “many years ago.”

A seconder work, from a different warehouse in the same complex, told The Times that staff were given iced neck scarves and drinking water to help them cope. They said that Amazon had supplemented the usual giant rotating ceiling fans with “massive” floor fans.

They were “happy” with the temperature inside the warehouse, they said.

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The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings on Washington, Oregon, and parts of Idaho. Portland, Oregon, recorded an 80-year high of 112 degrees over the weekend.

The first Amazon worker said that some departments had tried to boost productivity during the heatwave by holding “power hours,” when managers try to pump up warehouse staff to work even harder for 60 minutes by rewarding the fastest workers with prizes, such as Amazon gift cards.

“I was sweating immediately,” the worker said. “I’m really surprised at how ill-prepared they are, given we have known it would be this hot for a little bit now.”

The Amazon spokesperson said that it constantly measured the temperature in the building and that its safety team monitored the temperature on each floor. “We’re also making sure that everyone has easy access to water and can take time off if they choose to, though we’re finding that many people prefer to be in our buildings because of the A/C,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson didn’t respond to The Times’ questions about power hours or the temperatures inside the warehouse during the heatwave.

Amazon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The second worker, who received the neck scarf, told the publication that they had been worried about how hot the warehouse would be, but that they were happy with how Amazon had handled the heatwave.

“If this is how it will be all summer, it will be just fine,” they said.

Delivery drivers have been hit by the heatwave, too. The Times reported that Amazon told delivery contractors nationwide to give drivers extra breaks during the heatwave. It cited an email Amazon sent to delivery contractors.

The soaring heat has forced Pacific Northwest residents to head to cooling centers – in some cases with their pets – and bring farm animals inside.

Amazon is offering its Meeting Center on its South Lake Union campus as one of these cooling centers. City officials said the center was open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with capacity for 1,000 people.