Last December, two dozen Amazon workers landed in the hospital after a can of bear repellent exploded in a New Jersey warehouse. Thankfully, all of the workers made full recoveries. However, this wasn’t the first time a dangerous accident occurred inside an Amazon warehouse. Nonetheless, the can of exploding bear repellent accident was an important lesson for the eCommerce giant. Now, in order to prevent accidents like this from happening again, Amazon will build warehouses solely dedicated to handling items containing hazardous materials.
Prioritizing Employee Safety is Long Overdue for Amazon
Some might argue that building special warehouses for hazardous materials is long overdue for Amazon. For a long time, critics have spoken out against the company for not prioritizing employee safety, arguing that Amazon places the importance of quick fulfillment and delivery above everything else. However, these new warehouses mark a step in the right direction for the company.
Carletta Ooton, Amazon’s Vice President of health, safety, sustainability, security, and compliance, shared her thoughts on the matter.
“We recognized there was a need for specially engineered buildings to help safely store some types of products,” she said. Ooton also added that Amazon ‘s new warehouses will “better use technology to handle consumer goods that could be a health hazard to our employees.”
The Difference in Amazon’s Warehouses Built for Hazardous Items
The first of these special warehouses will open this summer in Mississippi, and will house over 500,000 square feet of fulfillment space. Amazon’s new warehouses will have special functions and features built solely for the purpose of handling hazardous items. Contrary to the company’s current fulfillment warehouses, these new facilities will feature special sprinkler systems, as well as designated storage areas for aerosols and flammable goods. Amazon also plans to specially train warehouse staff members in properly handing spills and other accidents in case they occur.
These Special Warehouses May Slow Things Down
While these special warehouses are critical for employee safety, they might slow down Amazon’s shipping speeds. This is due to the fact that items with hazardous materials always need to travel via ground transportation. Ground transportation is obviously slower than air. Items with hazardous material such as nail polish are consistently in high demand, and customers still expect fast shipping speeds on these goods. In order to maintain the fast shipping speeds that customers demand, Amazon will need to build a lot of these special warehouses across America. If they don’t, it could be a setback on the company’s quest to make one-day shipping a guaranteed reality for all Prime members.