When a tornado struck an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois on December 10, 2021, six delivery contractors were fatally injured and another severely injured.
After conducting a review of the facility's severe weather procedures, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a Hazard Alert Letter to Amazon, requiring the online retailer to review its emergency action plan (EAP) and workplace safety procedures.
According to the OSHA letter, the Amazon warehouse's emergency plan was unactionable due to several factors, including an inaccessible megaphone intended for auditory warnings and directives from management, a lack of emergency training and drills, and a general EAP lacking site-specific information.
OSHA investigators determined that while Amazon's severe weather emergency procedures met minimal federal safety guidelines for storm sheltering, the company should make improvements to further protect workers and contract drivers in future emergencies. For example, some interviewed employees could not recall the emergency shelter-in-place location, and many did not recall ever participating in severe weather drills.
The Hazard Alert Letter recommends three areas for improvement at the Edwardsville Amazon warehouse:
- Ensure that all employees are provided training and participate in emergency weather drills.
- Include site-specific information in severe weather emergency plans.
- All audible warning devices and locations of the devices should be clearly identified in the severe weather emergency plan and readily accessible.