OSHA sends ‘danger letter’ to Amazon over IL tornado deaths

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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is asking Amazon to improve its extreme weather emergency procedures after a tornado hit its warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, and killed six people.

OSHA investigators determined that Amazon’s procedures met the bare minimum of federal storm protection safety guidelines. However, safety officials said Amazon should make improvements to protect its workers and contract drivers in the event of a future emergency. OSHA does not have a standard for severe weather plans, but does offer recommendations for employers.

“Employers should 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 protect themselves in the event of a disaster,” the lender said. Regional OSHA Administrator William Donovan. .

An EF3 tornado struck Amazon’s fulfillment center, located just off Interstate 255, on December 10, 2021. Forty-five Amazon workers were able to exit the warehouse safely, including one carried by plane to a hospital for treatment. Six people were killed when the Amazon facility collapsed.

The victims have been identified as Deandre S. Morrow, 28, of St. Louis; Kevin D. Dickey, 62, of Carlyle, Ill.; Clayton Lynn Cope, 29, of Alton, Illinois; Etheria S. Hebb, 34, of St. Louis; Larry E. Virden, 46, of Collinsville, Illinois; and Austin J. McEwen, 26, of Edwardsville.

Amazon is currently charged in a number of lawsuits related to the tragedy. Lawyers for the families of the victims say the e-commerce giant acted negligently in constructing the building, disregarded the lives of workers and ignored severe weather warnings from area meteorologists before the tornado .

OSHA’s hazard alert letter sent to Amazon offers the following recommendations to improve worker safety at the Edwardsville warehouse:

  • Ensure that all employees receive training and participate in emergency weather drills
  • Include site-specific information in severe weather contingency plans
  • All horns and their locations should be clearly identified to employees and easily accessible.

This is breaking news and will be continuously updated.


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