The recent tropical storms left widespread damage along the storm’s path, leaving “unprecedented” flooding, and “massive” damage to areas. Residents and emergency preparedness and response personnel continue to cope with the weather disaster affecting thousands of square miles and millions of people.
FEMA’s website provides key safety tips and up-to-date information: https://www.fema.gov/
The destructive power of severe weather has the ability to create hazardous and unstable conditions not only for residents but also for the cleanup and restoration workers tasked with returning the affected areas to safe, functional order.
ISEA is committed to keeping cleanup workers safe, and would like to remind employers and workers of the importance of proper use and selection of personal protective equipment (PPE) during cleanup. Using PPE will help protect workers against floodwater-related hazards such as bacteria, dangerous airborne spores, debris and electrical hazards.
4 Tips to Stay Safe During Cleanup and Restoration:
- Cleanup workers should wear waterproof and chemical-resistant PPE when coming in contact with floodwater to reduce the risk of exposure to harmful bacteria or chemicals.
- Storm-damaged structures may contain debris and unstable surfaces, requiring durable, cut-resistant gloves and footwear in addition to other PPE.
- Mold growth is common in buildings following flooding, so cleanup workers should use appropriate NIOSH-approved respirators based on the amount of growth and other specific needs of the jobsite.
- Workers should also regularly check their PPE for holes or tears.
Contact ISEA members for assistance in proper use and selection of safety equipment by product categories: https://safetyequipment.org/resources/buyers-guide/
Disaster and Recovery: OSHA’s Hurricane e-Matrix Resource
OSHA’s Hazard Exposure and Risk Assessment Matrix provides information on many of the most common and significant additional hazards that response and recovery workers might encounter when working in an area recently devastated by a hurricane. This Matrix highlights a number of tasks and operations associated with disaster response and recovery. The Matrix is designed to help employers make decisions during their risk assessment that will protect their workers working in hurricane-impacted areas.
How to Help
Here are some ways that you can give to hurricane relief efforts:
The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance and disaster relief in times of crisis, is seeking donations to help victims of disasters.
The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services is the disaster relief arm of the charitable organization, and it is taking donations to help victims of disasters.