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US authorities urge Amazon to improve safety after tornado deaths

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·1-min read
US regulators say workers at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois did not know where to go to shelter from a tornado that hit the facility in December, killing six workers (AFP/Michael B. Thomas) (Michael B. Thomas)
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US regulators on Tuesday called on Amazon to improve its safety protocols after six people were killed in December when a tornado hit one of the company's warehouses in the state of Illinois.

An investigation into the deaths found that workers did not know where to go for shelter during the storm, and that a megaphone meant to communicate with employees was "locked in a cage and not accessible," the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said in a letter to the e-commerce giant.

"These tragic deaths have sparked discussions nationwide on the vital need for comprehensive workplace emergency plans," said OSHA Regional Administrator William Donovan.

He said employers should "prepare before an emergency to ensure workers know where to go and how to keep themselves safe in the event of a disaster."

OSHA's letter noted that Amazon workers and contractors in the building at the time had never participated in severe weather drills and were unclear on where to take shelter.

While the company's safety protocols met minimal standards, the letter requires the company review its procedures and called for improvements, including "site-specific information on weather emergency plans."

The December 10 tornado left another Amazon worker severely injured at the warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, and left a trail of destruction across four states killing a total of 88 people.

hs/sw

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