Hurricane and Flood Preparedness and Response

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

As thousands of workers and volunteers courageously mobilize to help victims recover from the catastrophic storm damage in Texas and Louisiana, OSHA advises workers and those helping in recovery efforts to take proper safety and health precautions to avoid injury.

Following a natural disaster, recovery and cleanup workers can be exposed to many dangers, including downed power lines, carbon monoxide and electrical hazards from portable generators, confined spaces, fall and struck-by hazards from weakened and damaged trees, mold, high water levels, toxic chemical exposure, and more.

The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November and peaks between August and October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins mid May and also ends in November. This page provides information on hurricane warnings, hazards that hurricanes cause, and precautions that workers and employers should take after a hurricane has occurred.

The Preparedness page outlines the warnings and watches used for hurricanes, including the five categories used to rate the strength of a hurricane. The page also contains information on creating evacuation plans and supply kits.

The Response/Recovery page features a link to OSHA’s Hurricane eMatrix, which features information on hazard exposures and risk assessments for hurricane response and recovery work. The information in the matrix is organized based on the types of activities performed so that it is easy for workers to identify the precautions they should take based on the tasks they will be performing.

OSHA and NOAA are working together on a public education effort aimed at improving the way people prepare for and respond to severe weather. This page is designed to help businesses and their workers prepare for hurricanes, and to provide information about hazards that workers may face during and after a hurricane.

Each employer is responsible for the safety and health of its workers and for providing a safe and healthful workplace for its workers. Employers are required to protect workers from the anticipated hazards associated with the response and recovery operations that workers are likely to conduct. For additional information on Workers’ Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA’s Employers PageWorkers Page and Publications.

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