Labor Department Continues Hazard Warnings Amid Disaster Recovery

Young boy with short blue trowsers wading with wet socks and wet boots through high tide after a floodwater has broken the dike and overflown the lands behind

The U.S. Department of Labor reminded emergency responders, participants in rescue and recovery efforts, and residents in flooded areas to protect themselves from hazards in the aftermath of natural disasters in the Southeast.

People in these jobs typically face a wide range of hazards such as extreme heat, handling contaminated or otherwise unsafe materials and debris, carbon monoxide, electrocution risks associated with water-impacted electrical circuits, and components and fall hazards related to debris removal or working at heights.

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminds everyone that recovery work must never come at the expense of someone’s safety and well-being,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA Southeast regional administrator in Atlanta. “Flood recovery work presents numerous safety and health hazards—amid power loss, and water accumulation and saturation of building materials, and electrical components—all of which can be minimized by being knowledgeable, following safe work practices and using personal protective equipment for debris removal.”

OSHA’s statement comes shortly after drawing attention to the dangers of violating as Cleanfax previously reported.

Once destructive weather passes, workers are needed to restore electricity, communications, water, and sewer services. These activities may also include removing standing floodwater from structures, performing demolition work, clearing debris, identifying, removing hazardous waste, and taking other needed steps to respond.

OSHA urges individuals engaged in recovery efforts to avoid entering areas where standing water is present when possible, especially in locations where openings or depressions below the water surface have occurred—which pose a risk of serious injury and drowning.

Before beginning any recovery work, the agency encourages taking protective measures which includes evaluating the work area for potential hazards, ensuring workers are appropriately trained to perform assigned tasks, and verifying hazards are corrected and effectively controlled.

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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