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JD Sports & ASOS release staff emergency reports

13 May 2019

THE WORKING conditions and welfare of ASOS and JD warehouse employees have been questioned after the number of emergency service visits in a year was brought to the media’s attention.

Ambulances were dispatched 40 times to JD Sports’ troubled Rochdale site last year, while there were 45 callouts to the ASOS warehouse in Grimethorpe. Union Unite said the figures reignited concerns about working conditions. However, both companies have a slight saving grace as the reason for these emergency visits was not shared, meaning staff could be called out for anything from a broken toe to a suicidal employee. 

A spokesman for JD Sports said, “Given the scale of our operations, the number of incidents where an ambulance is called each year is very low. Not all call-outs are related to workplace incidents. We have a responsibility to everybody on site and take no risks when it comes to their safety.” These new statistics do not indicate why the ambulances were summoned, but previous instances of poor working practices in warehouses include staff being subject to timed toilet breaks, invasive security checks and exhausting targets.

ASOS and XPO Logistics, which runs the Barnsley site on its behalf, said, “It is our policy to call an ambulance whether a situation is work-related or not, often as a precaution.” This could explain why there is indeed a high emergency service visits.

But this isn’t the first time JD Sports has negatively been in the spotlight. The sporting chain was forced to launch an investigation in 2016 into conditions at its main warehouse in Rochdale after an undercover film showed staff allegedly being paid less than the minimum wage and treated “like cattle”, in the words of former MP Iain Wright.

There seems to be a growing trend as over in the U.S, Amazon warehouses have also been under fire as it was discovered that emergency services had been called out over 180 times in the last 5 years responding to suicide attempts, suicidal episodes and mental health worries, according to US media outlet the Daily Beast.

HR Director for ELAS, Emma O’Leary comments, “It’s important that employers fully understand the effects that stress can have on both the individual and the workplace productivity as a whole. In fact, as many as one in six UK workers will be affected by a mental health condition or problem relating to stress, which equates to 70 million lost working days a year. We should think of our mental health in the same way we do our physical health. We would take time off from work to recover from a physical illness or injury to enable us to come back to work ‘fighting fit’, it therefore stands to reason that we would do the same if we need to recoup from a mental illness or injury. After all it is no great secret that when we are enjoying good mental health, that we feel a sense of purpose, we have energy to do things, can face challenges more easily and bring 100% of ourselves to work.”