Don’t Make Employees Choose Between Lives and Livelihoods During Disasters

Target: Douglas L. Parker, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health

Goal: Do not punish employees for attempting to save their lives during community emergencies.

A devastating tornado system raged across several states and claimed dozens of lives. The tragic deaths were disproportionately concentrated in workplaces. Six workers died in an Amazon warehouse collapse in Illinois. At least eight people are confirmed dead at a candle factory in Kentucky, although that number is likely to rise as rescuers continue to search the rubble of the obliterated building. These horrific fatalities likely could have been prevented.

At the Amazon facility, survivors claim they were not notified after an initial tornado warning went out. When they did become aware, they were reportedly not allowed to leave, and many did not know where to shelter.  Similar allegations have come from employees of the candle factory. The Kentucky situation may have been even worse because some workers say they pled with bosses for hours to go home and take shelter after the first tornado warning was issued. In response, management allegedly told them they would likely be fired if they left early. An investigation has been launched in the Illinois incident.

Profit should never take precedence over the safety of human beings. Sign the petition below to demand better legal shields that protect employees from being killed for doing their job.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Parker,

A person’s workplace should never become their place of death. Yet for dozens of people, this fate became their tragic reality. Now, so many families are left with nothing but overwhelming grief for the holidays. The death toll from the destructive December tornado system likely did not have to be so high. Ineptitude, recklessness, and carelessness from leaders who should have known better seemingly played a role.

You have already launched an investigation into the actions of Amazon officials in Illinois after a tornado leveled a warehouse and left six dead. A similar effort may be forthcoming as new details and allegations emerge surrounding the Kentucky candle factory fatalities. Please let these incidents be motivation to more broadly shield employees from the devastating effects of natural disasters.

Enact a nationwide policy that protects employees who leave their workplace during an emergency from repercussions. No person should ever have to choose between their job and their life.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ralph W. Lambrecht


One Comment

  1. There should never be a choice in an emergency situation. Save yourself and your loved ones. Period. No employer is worth your life or health. No money can replace you! I wish this were part of the employer creed but I fear there is no such creed. If the company demands you to stay, go anyway. You are the best judge of the danger facing you and other workers. I resent companies who behave in such a manner but now they must face the fact they were instrumental in the loss of life for families. Their reaction is inexcusable. Even though they are accountable nothing can relate a loss of life due to greed and ignorance.

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