California law clamps down on unsafe warehouse work conditions

Measure aims to rein in operators like Amazon amid e-commerce boom

Los Angeles /
Sep.September 23, 2021 10:18 AM
California law clamps down on unsafe warehouse work conditions
Jeff Bezos (Getty, iStock)

A new California state law aims to rein in warehouse operators like Amazon amid the ongoing e-commerce boom.

On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 701, which clamps down on unsafe work conditions at warehouses, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The law is aimed primarily at workplace quotas. It prohibits companies from firing workers for failing to meet a quota if it interferes with their breaks or use of restrooms, according to a report in the Los Angeles Daily News.

AB 701 also prohibits companies from disciplining workers for being “off-task” while they are complying with health and safety laws, and bars firms from disciplining workers who make complaints about conditions.

Amazon is one of the largest warehouse operators in the country with around 930 properties — most of them leased  — nationwide, including dozens in California.

The company has greatly expanded its footprint since the pandemic and continues to do so, including in Southern California. 

Strong consumer demand for e-commerce services has fueled competition for logistics and warehouse space in many parts of the country. L.A. County is one of the tightest industrial markets nationwide with a vacancy rate of just 1.9 percent as of the second quarter.

Numerous other companies, including Blackstone Group, have invested heavily during the pandemic in warehouse and distribution space.

And while AB 701 does not mention Amazon by name and does impact other warehouse operators, the law appears aimed at the e-commerce giant: A state Senate analysis found the injury rate at Amazon facilities to be nearly twice that of the wider warehousing industry.

California’s new law requires the state’s workplace safety agency to report worksites with an annual injury rate 1.5 times higher than the wider industry.

[LAT] [LADN] — Dennis Lynch






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