Amazon’s head of safety stepping down as company faces allegations it’s not doing enough to protect employees

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 4:22 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Amazon’s head of safety is stepping down as the company faces growing allegations that it is not doing enough to protect employees.

In an email, Amazon announced that Heather MacDougall would be leaving in October to pursue “other opportunities.” The safety concerns include people in the St. Louis area as it has been nearly a year since the Edwardsville tornado disaster killed six workers.

An attorney for one of the victim’s families who is now suing Amazon claims the company is jeopardizing employee safety. He said that includes rebuilding the Edwardsville warehouse without a tornado shelter.

“It’s very analogous and we’re all familiar with the sinking of the Titanic and not having enough lifeboats, it would be as if the White Starline, the corporation that owned the Titanic, rebuilt the ship knowing it did not have enough lifeboats and then not adding new lifeboats. These are resources that Amazon should have had in place,” said Jack Casciato, a lawyer for the family of an employee killed in the tornado.

John Felton, Amazon’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations, sent the below email announcing the staffing change:

“I’m writing to share organizational changes on our Workplace Health and Safety team. As you know, Heather MacDougall joined Amazon as our Vice President of Global Workplace Health and Safety in 2019. Since then, Heather has hired strong leaders and helped us make meaningful progress on our goal to be the safest workplace in the world.

Since Heather joined Amazon, we’ve navigated the complexities and challenges of a global pandemic while creating new workplace health and safety programs that eliminate or mitigate risks across a diverse global workforce. In addition, Heather and her team built strong partnerships with organizations like the National Safety Council (NSC) and the American Society of Safety Professionals, which led to Amazon and the NSC creating the first-ever industry pledge to reduce MSDs.

Now, after building with us for over three years as an important member of our leadership team, Heather has decided to pursue other opportunities outside Amazon. I want to thank her for her many contributions, and I wish her well on the next step in her journey. Heather’s last day in the office will be October 7th.

As we look to the future, thanks to the contributions from Heather and leaders from across our operations, we are making good progress on our safety journey, and there is more to do. To guide this transition, I’ve asked Becky Gansert to lead a broader role driving the overall associate experience forward. In this role, she will lead Global Workplace Health and Safety as well as the Learning and L&D teams supporting Operations led by Dayna Howard. Becky will also continue supporting the work to create improved flexible workforce solutions for associates. Safety and the overall associate experience are priorities that are intricately linked and Becky is uniquely qualified to move us forward with both. As a long-time Amazonian (who started as a temporary tier one associate herself) with nearly 25 years of experience, Becky has proven to be an incredible builder – she invents, executes, and scales and does all of this with an amazing passion for safety and an obsession for the overall experience of our associates. With this change, Heather’s directs will move to report to Becky and Dayna Howard will join Becky’s new team.

Please join me in thanking Heather for her many contributions that have advanced our safety programs at Amazon, and congratulating Becky as she steps into this role and helps us continue on our journey to be Earth’s Best Employer.”