- Amazon is building a new warehouse specifically for dangerous items, the company told Wired.
- The new warehouse is much smaller than a typical fulfillment center, and it will house the most hazardous items that Amazon ships, like bleach cleaner, nail polish, and bear spray.
- The company has had incidents with hazardous materials in the past, including an accident in a New Jersey warehouse in December that injured dozens of workers.
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Amazon is building a special warehouse for the hazardous goods it stores and ships to customers, Wired reported.
Rising in Mississippi and measuring 500,000 square feet, the new warehouse will be specially created to store and fulfil orders of dangerous items like bleach cleaner, nail polish, and bear spray.
“We recognised there was a need for specially engineered buildings to help safely store some types of products,” Carletta Ooton, the vice president of health, safety, sustainability, security, and compliance at Amazon, told Wired.
These new warehouses will “better use technology to handle consumer goods that could be a health hazard to our employees,” Ooton said.
The building has upgraded sprinkler systems and separates different kinds of dangerous items, like flammable substances and aerosols.
Other fufillment centres will still handle these products according to Amazon’s existing hazmat policies, some of which already exist in similar ways in these locations, but the dedicated center takes it one step further.
It’s designed to protect Amazon workers who could be exposed to hazardous substances in the event of an accident. Some items that Amazon sells are meant to be used only for specific circumstances, like bleach cleaners and hair spray, and these items would be dangerous to workers if they were damaged and their contents released into the air.
The staff will be given different training to deal with these items and their dangers, and the items will be shipped via ground transportation only.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment further when reached by Business Insider.
Amazon has reason to be careful when it comes to dangerous substances.
In December, a can of bear spray fell off a shelf in Amazon’s fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The can released fumes into the fulfillment center, injuring workers.
Twenty-four people were sent to local hospitals, and one was in critical condition, local officials said. In total, 54 workers were affected by the incident.
Those affected reported having difficulty breathing and experiencing a burning sensation in the eyes and throat. Bear repellent is made mostly of concentrated capsaicin, the chemical found in hot peppers.
This isn’t the first time a can of bear repellent has caused an issue in an Amazon warehouse, according to Wired, which reported that two other similar incidents occurred in 2015 and earlier this year.
After the New Jersey incident, Amazon classified bear spray as a more dangerous substance than it had previously, not allowing it to be handled by robots, Ooton told Wired.
Amazon also appeared to be discouraging its sellers who use the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program from sending more dangerous items into its warehouses.
Amazon announced a few weeks after the New Jersey incident that it would be introducing a new fee for “dangerous” items, like aerosol cans and lithium-ion batteries, that sellers send to Amazon warehouses. The fees are higher than the regular fees Amazon charges for using FBA.
FBA is a program in which third-party sellers send their goods to be stored in Amazon warehouses before they are sold on Amazon.com. Items are then shipped out like a normal order by the e-commerce giant.
Amazon has a full list of items it considers “dangerous,” which mostly consists of items that are “flammable, pressurised, corrosive, or otherwise harmful.”
The new fees went into effect on February 19.
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