In the wake of the devastation caused in South Carolina by Hurricane Joaquin, The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has advised residents and emergency workers in South Carolina of the hazards present. These warnings, however, do not only apply to South Carolina, they apply to all locations where major, catastrophic storms can hit.
“Recovery work should not put you in the hospital emergency room,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta. “A range of safety and health hazards exist following storms. You may minimize these dangers with knowledge, safe work practices and personal protective equipment. OSHA wants to make certain that all working men and women, including volunteers, return home at the end of the workday.”
To help prevent injury during storm recovery and cleanup, the following measures should be taken: evaluate the work area for hazards; employ engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards; use personal protective equipment; assume all power lines are alive; use portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles, and other equipment properly; and heed safety precautions for traffic work zones.
If your business is involved in storm recovery, or if any of your employees help in storm recovery, it is imperative you have policies and procedures in place to ensure these basic steps are in place to protect your employees. If you do not, it could lead to serious injuries to your employees and serious fines from OSHA. If you are having trouble implementing these policies and procedures, please contact a qualified third party occupational safety and health auditing firm to assist.
If you have any questions about these warnings from OSHA or about how they could impact your company, please contact us. If you have anything to add about the importance of safeguarding against hazards during disaster cleanup, please leave a comment.