OSHA is calling on Amazon to improve its severe weather emergency procedures in response to a Dec. 10, 2021, fatal warehouse collapse in Illinois.
The agency issued a Hazard Alert Letter to Amazon, requiring the company to review its severe weather emergency procedures after six contractors were killed and another was severely injured when a tornado struck the Edwardsville warehouse.
Five of the people killed and the injured worker were independent direct service provider delivery drivers who took shelter in a bathroom. The sixth worker who was killed was an in-house contractor assigned to the facility.
The contract companies involved will also receive Hazard Alert Letters from OSHA encouraging them to review severe weather procedures with their employees.
Inspectors found that while Amazon’s procedures met minimal federal safety guidelines for storm sheltering the company should make improvements to better protect contract drivers and workers.
‘Employers should re-evaluate emergency weather plans’
OSHA made this recommendation under the General Duty Clause requirement for employers to provide a safe workplace as the agency doesn’t have a standard specifically requiring severe weather emergency plans.
The Hazard Alert Letter recommends Amazon:
- ensure that all employees are provided training and participate in emergency weather drills
- include site-specific information in severe weather emergency plans, and
- ensure all audible warning devices and locations of such devices be readily accessible and clearly identified in the plan.
OSHA Regional Administrator William Donovan encouraged all employers to “re-evaluate their emergency plans for the safest shelter-in-place locations and prepare before an emergency to ensure workers know where to go and how to keep themselves safe in the event of a disaster.”