While Amazon has been busy handling employee protests, warehouse closures, investigations and an uptick in demand, employees have been working behind the scenes to develop face shields for frontline workers. To date, Amazon has donated nearly 10,000 face shields, and over the next few weeks, it plans to make hundreds of thousands available at-cost on Amazon.com.
According to a blog post, in early March, a program manager at Amazon joined a group of makers in Washington State who were 3D printing face shields for frontline workers. The group had developed its own design and was assembling the shields by hand in their homes and offices. The Amazon employee enlisted help from Prime Air colleagues, and soon, a team from Amazon was refining the face shield design.
They optimized the face shields for 3D printing and injection molding and made sure the product was lightweight and comfortable. The open source design is now available to anyone, and it has been approved by the National Institute of Health (NIH).
The shields should be available on Amazon.com soon. The company says it plans to prioritize frontline workers and eventually make them available to all customers.
“Because of the design innovations and the capabilities of our supply chain, we are confident we will be able to list them at a significantly lower price – almost a third of the cost – than all other reusable face shields currently available to frontline workers,” Amazon wrote.
There is a need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers, and Amazon’s own employees have protested over what they say is a lack of protections. More than 100 Amazon workers have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 and at least three have died. In response, Amazon has promised to increase employee temperature checks and provide surgical masks to workers across the US and Europe. It’s unclear if Amazon will offer these face shields to its own essential workers.