EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — A newly formed state task force will soon start looking at safety standards for warehouses in Illinois.
Dec. 10, 2021 is a day that Carla and Lynn Cope said they will never forget.
“I remember going down there and seeing all of the rescue vehicles,” Carla Cope said.
Their son Clay, and five of his coworkers, lost their lives when an EF-3 tornado struck the Amazon warehouse they were working inside.
“That always one of my greatest fears,” Lynn said.
“They said that they had shelters, but they had no training to even know where to go,” Carla said. “That night apparently was nothing but chaos.”
After the collapse OSHA issued a ‘Hazard Alert Letter’ to Amazon, and while they declined to site the company the letter detailed how the company’s emergency procedures met minimal federal safety guidelines.
“They met the minimum standards and people lost their lives,” Lynn said. “I don’t believe the minimums are good enough if people lose their lives. It’s not realistic.”
With building codes set to expire in 2025 the state of Illinois recently created warehouse safety task force to review those policies.
After retiring from warehouse work Lynn, who applied to join the warehouse safety task force, said he believes he knows where they should start.
“Having more places for people to go and a safe place is what I would like to see,” Lynn said. “They can be multi-use places where you go to find shelter.”
“It can be the lunchroom as long as it’s fortified,” Carla said.
While Illinois set a deadline for the task force to come up with any recommendations by Jan. 1, 2025, the Cope’s said they believe if the state is serious about safety, then something needs to happen sooner.
“Those tornadoes come through here all of the time,” Carla said. “Two years is just the task force. To completion this could be five years from now. How many more times is this going to happen before they say you know what it's worth us to invest this small amount in our employees to make sure this doesn't happen again."
Rep. Katie Stuart, from Edwardsville, is a member of the 16-member committee that will be comprised of state lawmakers as well as local business and labor leaders.
She reached out to the Cope family after 5 On Your Side told her about Lynn's interest in joining the task force and lending his expertise.
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