Twenty-one worker advocacy organizations issued a letter to the Biden administration asking for OSHA to protect workers from workplace surveillance technologies. These organizations, which include the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) and Governing for Impact (GFI), claim the agency already has a right to do just that.

Specifically, the organizations are asking the Biden administration to:

  • Have OSHA develop a standard to regulate workplace surveillance technologies based on its existing authority to regulate hazards to workers’ physical safety and mental health,
  • Incorporate workplace monitoring in certain existing OSHA guidance on workplace injury prevention and have the agency issue new guidance identifying injury risks and solutions in warehousing, and
  • Require the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to fund new research into the effects of workplace surveillance technologies on workers’ physical and mental health, including its impact on job strain, industrial accidents, and workplace injuries.

Tesla, McDonald’s, and Amazon Used as Examples

The 49-page letter points to Amazon, Tesla and McDonald’s as examples of how employers are misusing electronic monitoring to make work environments unsafe for a worker’s physical and mental health.

Amazon’s electronic monitoring and disciplining systems “have exacerbated its abysmal worker safety and health record,” according to CDT and the other organizations. The company’s “crushing production quotas and speeds” are enforced by electronic surveillance, leading to an injury rate that’s twice as high as the industry average.

Tesla uses electronic surveillance and monitoring to “surveil employees and quash worker organizing efforts, a potential violation of federal labor law.”

And McDonald’s “is using technology to control its franchisees’ cashier employees while claiming it is not liable to those workers under employment or labor law.” This frustrates workers’ ability to hold the company accountable by placing the burden solely on the franchisee instead of the company itself.

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About the Author

Jon Knight

Jon Knight leads the NASP Team’s media creation department. He has been involved with workplace safety training since 2017 with a focus on course creation. He also provides video production and voiceovers for NASP content.
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