Amazon piloting new device which alerts workers when they break social distancing

Amazon is piloting a new wearable device which will inform its warehouse workers when they are too close to colleagues.

Amazon workers at its fulfilment centre in Kent, Washington, will soon be testing the automated social distancing system, according to CNBC.

The small device can be clipped onto a worker’s garments and will emit a loud noise and flash whenever they come within two metres of a colleague.

According to a memo seen by CNBC, workers will receive instructions on how to use the device when they collect on from one of a number of stations located around the facility.

READ MORE: Amazon is being sued after warehouse worker’s cousin dies of COVID-19

When they return the device at the end of the day they will be able to offer their feedback by scanning a QR code.

While the device will not be mandatory for employees to wear yet, Amazon hopes it will alleviate concerns highlighted by many staff that it is difficult to work in warehouses without breaking social distancing rules.

“We’re excited to test this technology with you and get your feedback to understand if it’s an effective tool to keep you safe,” the memo reads.

“Additionally, if we are ever notified of a COVID-19 diagnosis, the data captured from the devices of associates who had close contact can be used to conduct contact tracing.”

This comes as Amazon is being sued by six people who have accused it of allowing coronavirus to spread among its facilities leading to the death of one worker’s family member.

A lawsuit was filed earlier this month with the US District Court in Brooklyn by three Amazon workers at its fulfilment centre in Staten Island, which has been the epicentre of controversy surrounding worker safety in recent months.

The plaintiffs are not hoping to get a payout, but instead are asking for an injunction forcing Amazon to comply with worker safety and public nuisance laws.

Amazon said it has previously said that it has implemented a range of measures to help prevent infection in its warehouses, including introducing social distancing and testing workers for fevers.

Last month it said that enforcing these measures, alongside hiring new staff and paying existing staff bonuses would essentially wipe out its $4 billion profits next quarter.

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