On April 26, OSHA issued a letter to an online retailer asking the company to improve its emergency severe weather procedures following a warehouse collapse in Edwardsville, IL. After a Category 3 tornado struck the company warehouse on December 10, 2021, six contractors suffered fatal injuries and another was critically wounded.
Workers were directed to go to a bathroom on the North side of the building, which was the designated storm shelter, 10 minutes prior to the estimated time of tornado impact. However, five of the deceased and the severely injured worker took shelter in a bathroom on the South side near the loading docks
because they were unaware of the emergency procedures.
During an OSHA inspection initiated on December 11, 2021, the Agency found that a megaphone was on the premise during the incident but was inaccessible and locked behind a cage. The Agency also identified room for improvement in the company’s written Emergency Action Plan (EAP).
OSHA concluded the company met minimal Federal safety guidelines for storm sheltering but could do more to protect workers and contractors alike. In its letter to the company, OSHA recommended the following measures to adhere to OSHA’s safety regulations:
- Ensure that all employees who work throughout the facility, including, vendors, and contracted personnel, are provided training and participate in drills associated with the layout of the facility, warning and alert methods, and severe weather shelter locations.
- All audible warning devices, as well as the location of the device(s), should be clearly identified within the severe weather emergency plan and readily accessible.
- Site severe weather emergency plans should contain site-specific information. When addressing severe weather emergency plan guidance, hazards beyond conditions involving a fire, any applicable exit route, exit door, shelter-in-place, or any other emergency plan guidance, should be identified within the written emergency plan.
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