Amazon under OSHA investigation after fatal warehouse collapse
Tornadoes rocked the Midwest in December and the online-store giant could face safety violations
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Amazon is facing online controversy over employee safety concerns after a warehouse collapse in Illinois following a severe storm killed six workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opened an investigation Monday with the help of public outcry.
Athena Coalition, a non-profit organization for worker’s rights, and the Warehouse Workers for Justice, requested OSHA via Twitter to take a closer look into the incident. They believe Amazon’s six deaths resulted from employee safety concerns left unaddressed.
Employees are coming together to speak publicly about their experiences working at Amazon. The families of those lost in the tragedy, in addition, have commented on the company’s storm protocols.
Larry Virden, 46, a former US veteran and Amazon driver, was one of the victims. His girlfriend spoke with media outlets describing her last conversation with Virden over a series of texts.
Horrifying details are emerging about the tornado disaster at Amazon's warehouse in Illinois, where at least 6 workers were killed on the job.— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) December 13, 2021
Before he died, Larry Virden reportedly texted his girlfriend: "Amazon won’t let us leave." He leaves behind four children. pic.twitter.com/3ZRLik9VIs
According to Amazon officials, tornado safety protocols were in place before the collapse and team members worked to move the 52 onsite employees to shelter.
In a statement, Amazon said all employees were “notified and directed to move to a designated and marked shelter in place location.” From the 46 that made it to the designated shelter, six workers went to other areas of the building.
Despite Amazon’s explanation, the company draws most criticism due to its ongoing history of questionable worker safety practices.
Warehouse workers have had to endure floods, tornadoes, and other severe weather conditions just to get the job done in the past.
OSHA hopes to address the matter quickly and provide some additional insight as to what occurred internally in Edwardsville. Their inspectors have been onsite since Dec. 11.