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Questions About Workplace Safety After Edwardsville Tornado Hits Amazon Facility, Killing Six

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Six of victims from Friday's devastating tornado which hit Illinois were inside an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois.

The facility is near St. Louis and on Monday, OSHA said it's investigating if whether enough was done to protect the workers there. The last time we had a tornado that powerful in our area was in June in Naperville.

CBS 2's Chris Tye reports the cleanup from summer tornadoes there continues six months later. While there is a lot of talk and advice on what to do when storms hit while you're at home, the downstate storms make clear workplace plans should also be outlined.

Tarps still up in Naperville after those EF-3 tornadoes destroyed huge chunks of this community in June. But these rare December outbreaks have one of the largest companies in the world explaining what went right and what went wrong as tornadoes hit a massive workplace.

It used to be a 1.1 million square foot Amazon delivery depot. Amazon said between 8:06 and 8:16 Friday night. Tornado Warnings were signaled by cell phone alerts and nearby sirens. At 8:27, the tornado struck.

Of the 46 people inside, 39 made it to the north side of the building. A site of a shelter in place location. Seven stayed on the south end, and that's where all six fatalities and one injury occurred. That's because on the south side of the building, there is no shelter in place location. So, why couldn't those seven make it north in those crucial minutes?

"A small handful, we speculate because of the work they were doing at the time they congregated on the south end of the facility," said Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel. Amazon denied allegations that workers at this location aren't allowed to have cell phones on the job.

"Employees are allowed to have cell phone. There are rules about what they can do with those phones," Nantel said. "We do know often times employees put cell phones in their bags and not put on their person but there is no prohibition against it."

The company said that in those key minutes Friday night, leaders used bullhorns to notify workers on the floor and radios to notify drivers heading toward the facility of the pending twister.

"We have not seen something like this for a long time in the state of Illinois," said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker.

OSHA is now joining state and local investigators looking into the deadliest tornado in Illinois in quite awhile. The governor said while there's no early indication of code violations, perhaps new codes need to be considered moving forward.

"We are seeing more and more around the state of Illinois," Pritzker said.

In a statement to CBS 2, Amazon said emergency response training is provided to all new employees with training year-round. We have heard from former workers who says while phones are not prohibited, the rules around them can require they be kept in lockers during their shifts and out of earshot if

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