In the wake of the punctured bear mace can incident in December, Amazon this summer will launch a number of warehouses designed specifically to hold hazardous materials.
The company said it has been developing these facilities for months, including a 500,000 sqft fulfillment center that will open in Mississippi. These facilities will be home to products that range from common cleaning agents to nail polish.
Amazon said it began developing the facilities before a bear mace incident last December that sent several employees to the hospital. The plan started with an 80,000 sqft test facility in Virginia, then the 500,000 sqft Mississippi facility that will launch this summer.
The facilities are ‘specially engineered’ for these risky products, which can include things like flammable items, potentially troublesome aerosols, cleaning agents, and other similar items. The employees at these facilities will be trained in dealing with potential issues that may happen, such as hazardous liquid spilling.
Amazon will only ship products from these facilities over ground, not air.
Until now, Amazon was taking a number of safety steps, including using safety rooms in existing warehouses and other solutions. This move just brings safety up a notch.
By building these dedicated facilities, the company said it will be able to centralize the items for which there is a growing demand; it’ll potentially help reduce any safety issues that could result elsewhere. The company already has dedicated facilities for select other products, including clothing.
In the bear mace incident, one worker ended up in intensive care and two dozen others were treated at five New Jersey hospitals after a can of bear repellent fell off a shelf and ended up punctured by a robot at the Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville, NJ.
One worker was in critical condition, and 30 more were sickened and treated on the scene. The primary cause for hospitalization was difficulty breathing, officials said. Bear spray contains concentrated capsaicin, the primary ingredient in pepper spray for humans.