OSHA Distributes Alert on the Dangers Involved with Cleanup, Recovery from Hurricanes

August 16, 2004

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is urging employers and workers to take appropriate safety measures to avoid injury and illnesses associated with the recovery and cleanup efforts following hurricanes.

The potential for fatal accidents involving electrocution from power lines, as well as serious injuries associated with tree trimming, have prompted the agency to remind employers, workers and the public to ensure that they observe appropriate safety and health precautions while performing cleanup and utility restoration operations. This includes coordinating with control centers responsible for power circuits so that workers do not enter areas where there are live wires.

“The hurricane season is now upon us,” said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw, “and it’s important to remember that even when the storm has past, the dangers are not-particularly for workers restoring power lines, cutting down tree limbs, and doing other cleanup and recovery work. This kind of work is hazardous and accidents can cost lives.”

Information on avoiding hazards and safely cleaning up after a hurricane is available from OSHA to help workers who are involved in recovery and restoration efforts. Three fact sheets-Cleanup Hazards, Food Cleanup, and Fungi-are available on OSHA’s Web site at www.osha.gov. A Safety and Health Information Bulletin on mold safety and remediation is also available.

Cleanup Hazards gives people involved in cleanup operations tips on avoiding injuries and health hazards, such as how to avoid electrical hazards and fires, and suggestions on clothing and personal protective equipments to wear while cleaning up.

Flood Cleanup discusses the hazards contained in floodwater, how to protect against contamination or disease from exposure to floodwater, and what to do if symptoms of illness develop after exposure to floodwater.

Fungi contains information on fungal diseases and conditions that can develop after floods, tips on protecting workers against exposure, and suggestions on what to do if symptoms develop after potential exposures.

Mold Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) offers recommendations on how to prevent mold growth and how to protect workers involved in the prevention and cleanup of mold.

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