DALLAS – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration urges response crews and residents in areas affected by Hurricane Nicholas to recognize the hazards created by flooding, power loss, structural damage, fallen trees and storm debris.
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 is used 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 protection, foot and eye safeguards.
- Have plenty of drinking water available, use sunscreen, and take frequent rest breaks in shaded areas. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
“Workers entering areas after severe weather must be prepared to do their jobs and help clean up and restore services safely,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Eric Harbin in Dallas. “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.