ATLANTA – Florida’s emergency workers, employers and the public at-large face potentially serious hazards as they begin to recover from Hurricane Matthew, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging vigilance during the cleanup.
Storm and tornado cleanup may involve hazards related to restoring electricity, communications, and water and sewer services. Demolition activities such as debris cleanup; tree trimming; and structural, roadway and bridge repair; hazardous waste operations and emergency response activities present their own unique hazards. OSHA’s website provides guidance to keep disaster site workers safe in tornado and storm cleanup and recovery operations.
Flooded areas have unique cleanup challenges, including dam and levee repair, removal of floodwater from structures and repairing downed electrical wires in standing water. Workers and residents taking defensive action to protect structures or evacuate severely impacted areas may encounter hazards, such as rapidly rising streams and moving water. Resources on flood preparedness and response also are available on OSHA’s website.
Only properly trained and adequately equipped workers should conduct cleanup activities.
Protective measures for workers engaged in cleanup efforts include the following:
- Evaluate all work areas for hazards.
- Employ engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards.
- Use personal protective equipment.
- Assume all powerlines are live.
- Use portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles and other equipment properly.
- Heed safety precautions for traffic work zones.