EDWARDSVILLE, IL (CBS / AP) – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday that the warehouse is at the bottom of the state collapsed into a tornado in December “complied with minimum federal safety guidelines for shelter from the storm.”
Following the investigation, OSHA identified a possible lack of on-site shelter training and a lack of a designated shelter area.
OSHA said Amazon needed to improve its procedures in harsh weather to protect its employees.
A company spokesman said Amazon had “already begun conducting additional safety and emergency preparedness exercises” at the facilities and would consider the agency’s recommendations.
Six people were killed and another worker was seriously injured when a December 11 tornado struck a warehouse in Edwardsville measuring 1.1 million square feet.
The tornado occurred at 8:27 p.m. Tornado warnings were signaled by air raid sirens and a jolt between 20:06 and 20:16
Of the 46 people inside, 39 reached the north side of the building, where the shelter was located. Seven more remained at the southern end, where all six people were killed and one was injured.
This is because there is no shelter on the south side of the building. So why were these seven unable to get north at these crucial moments?
“A small handful, we assume, is because of the work they were doing at the time they were going to the south end of the facility,” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in December. Amazon has denied allegations that workers in this place are prohibited from having mobile phones at work.
“Employees are allowed to have a mobile phone. There are rules about what they can do with these phones, ”Nantel said in December. “We know that often employees put cell phones in bags instead of putting them on, but that’s not forbidden.”
The company said that in these key minutes of the night tornado leaders used beeps to inform workers on the floor, and radios to inform drivers heading toward the facility of an expected twister.
On Tuesday, Jack Kashata, a partner at Clifford’s law offices representing a delivery driver who died in a warehouse collapse, said the law firm was investigating.
“In line with the mandate of the OSHA Congress, the obligation is to set standards for safe work practices, and from today’s letter it is clear that Amazon had shortcomings in several areas, as stated in OSHA’s letter to Amazon,” Kashiata told the news release.
Casicato represents the 26-year-old Austin McEwanwhose parents accuse Amazon of making a profit before security, and accuse the company of failing to protect its employees in a new lawsuit.
McEwan traveled to Amazon as an independent contractor. He was 26.
“Amazon knew a tornado was coming, but decided to have our son and others work at the peak of the delivery season for Amazon instead of evacuating the area,” Alice McEwan said in January.
Clifford’s law firm claims McEwan was given refuge in a restroom along with five others when a concrete structure collapsed and killed everyone.
Amazon has not yet explained why workers were on the production lines during what Amazon calls a “peak delivery season” when there were warnings long enough before a tornado hit with a 70 percent chance of one or more tornadoes. priority over the delivery of holiday packages, ”Kashata said in a release Tuesday. The fact that Amazon operates a facility in Tornado Lane, and that OSHA found workers who were unsure of where to go during the tornado, and that contingency plans have not been determined for that facility, is “A serious problem. Amazon of all companies had means fixing those bugs to collapse.”