Following the death of six workers at a warehouse in the US state of Illinois due to a tornado, Amazon is facing concerns about its health and safety procedures.
“This never would have happened if they cared about lives over productivity,” the sister of one of the victims commented on social media.
In reaction to the tornado, the corporation claims that its crew “acted fast.”
When the storm pounded the warehouse on Friday, the roof fell.
An Amazon spokesman, Kelly Nantel, stated in a statement that the business is “truly saddened” by the deaths.
Clayton Cope, 29, was one among those killed. He spoke to his family on the phone soon before the building in Edwardsville, Illinois was attacked.
Carla, Clayton’s mother, claimed she had contacted her son to warn him of the approaching storm.
“We told him it looked like the storm was heading that way and that he needed to get to shelter,” Carla told NBC affiliated television station KSDK.
Clayton, who had served in the Navy before, assured his mother that he would first notify his coworkers.
Clayton Cope informed his family that he intended to warn other employees before finding refuge.
Now, there are concerns about whether enough shelter was provided, if workers were told to go there soon away, and whether the shifts should have gone forward that evening at all, given the extreme weather forecasts.
When contacted by the BBC, Amazon claimed the Edwardsville location got tornado warnings between 20:06 and 20:16 local time (01:06 and 01:16 GMT) before the tornado impacted the building at 20:27, with events “happening really rapidly.”
The team worked “very swiftly” to guarantee that as many workers and partners as possible could reach the “shelter in place” location, according to the corporation.
Austin J McEwen, a 26-year-old freight driver, died in the restroom, where several workers said they were urged to seek cover after getting emergency notifications on their cellphones.
“I was just getting in the building and they started screaming, “Shelter in place!'” said David Kosiak, 26, who has worked at the facility for three months.
“We were in the bathrooms. That’s where they sent us.”
“It sounded like a train came through the building. The ceiling tiles came flying down. It was very loud. They made us shelter in place ’til we left – it was at least two-and-a-half hours in there,” Kosiak said.
After a tornado warning, the company procedure at Amazon was for all employees to be “notified and directed to move to a designated and marked shelter in place location”.
The company said that most of the members of the team had taken shelter at “the primary designated location”.
However, a small number had taken refuge in a tornado-damaged section of the structure. “This is where most of the tragic loss of life occurred,” Amazon said.
However, Clayton’s sister Rachel told the BBC that she believed from her brother’s and parents’ talk that he and the other workers were not ordered to seek cover immediately after the first warning siren sounded.
She made a Facebook post requesting that the firm’s commitment to health and safety be publicised.
“Everyone knows that all Amazon cares about is productivity,” she wrote.
On Friday evening, catastrophic storms slammed across six US states, killing about 100 people and destroying houses and businesses over a 200-mile (322-kilometer) radius. A candle business in Mayfield, Kentucky, has verified eight deaths.
The storm increased quickly when it hit the Amazon warehouse, with gusts reaching 150 miles per hour (241 kilometres per hour), tearing the roof off the football field-sized facility, according to the National Weather Service. The concrete walls, which were 11 inches thick (28 cm), collapsed in on themselves.
(Adapted from BBC.com)