An Amazon dispatcher in Illinois told the driver to continue delivering the package even after tornado sirens warned of the impending danger. That’s according to the screenshots he shared this week that document exchanges that allegedly took place last Friday shortly before the tornado hit Amazon’s warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, leading to . “Just keep driving,” the dispatcher said in a message sent at 7:08 p.m. that evening. “We can’t just call people to warn unless Amazon tells us to.”
After being told to “resume delivery” a second time about half an hour later, the driver said she wanted to return for her safety. “If you look at the radar, the worst storm will be on me in 30 minutes.” She was told that she would lose her job if she returned.
“If you decide to come back with your packages, it will be considered as rejecting your route, which will end up with you not having a job tomorrow morning,” the dispatcher said. “I was literally stuck in this damn van with no safe place to go with a tornado on the ground,” the driver said before being told to take cover.
In a statement to Bloomberg, Amazon said the dispatcher did not follow security guidelines. The company also said it was investigating the incident and that the driver was safe. Here is the full text of the statement he shared with the release:
This was a developing situation in a wide geographical area, and unfortunately, the dispatch of the delivery service partner did not follow standard security practices. This dispatcher should have immediately instructed the driver to seek shelter when the driver reported hearing tornado sirens. While this text messaging was going on, the local Amazon team ensured that each delivery service partner instructed their drivers to take shelter on the spot or seek shelter and advised them to stop delivering in the evening. We are happy that the driver is safe and we are using the knowledge from this incident to improve our rules and guidelines for partners and drivers in the delivery service. Under no circumstances was the dispatcher threatened to hire a driver, and we are investigating all the details of this incident and will take all necessary action.
Amazon’s policy has led to several incidents in which workers were expected to arrive even during extreme weather conditions. In September, when the tropical Ida Depression caused floods across New York City, a retailer kept its warehouses open. In 2017, drivers told Bryan Menegus of Engadget: , delivered packages immediately after Hurricane Irma. The company is also known for keeping its facilities open even in extreme heat. During the historic heat wave that hit the Northwest Pacific last summer, employees had to work even when temperatures inside one of the company’s facilities .
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is at work the collapse of a warehouse in Illinois. According to employees who spoke with Bloomberg, the facility did not conduct any pre-tornado drills to prepare them for an emergency.
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