BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration urges response crews and residents to recognize the hazards created by flooding, power loss, structural damage, fallen trees and storm debris in areas affected by Tropical Storm Henri.
Response and recovery workers may face hazards related to restoring electricity and communications, removing debris, repairing water damage, repairing or replacing roofs and trimming trees. Only individuals with proper training, equipment and experience should conduct recovery and cleanup activities.
After a weather disaster, those involved in response and recovery should:
- Evaluate the work area for hazards.
- Assess the stability of structures and walking surfaces.
- Ensure fall protection when working on elevated surfaces.
- Assume all power lines are live.
- Keep portable generators outside.
- Never attach a generator directly to the electrical system of a structure unless a qualified electrician has installed a transfer switch for the generator.
- Operate chainsaws, ladders and other equipment properly.
- Use personal protective equipment, such as gloves, hard hats, and hearing, foot and eye safeguards.
“When Mother Nature hits us hard, workers entering disaster areas to help clean up and restore services must be prepared to do their jobs safely,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Jeffrey Erskine in Boston. “Employers must follow safe work practices, provide training on worksite hazards and ensure the use of appropriate personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of injuries.”
OSHA maintains a comprehensive webpage on hurricane preparedness and response with safety tips to help employers and workers, including an alert on keeping workers safe during flood cleanup. Individuals involved in response and recovery efforts may call OSHA at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. Learn more about OSHA.