OSHA is reaching out to Louisiana residents, as well as emergency workers and the general public, asking them to be aware of hazards they may encounter while recovering from the impact of recent floods. Recovery crews assisting in the cleanup following extensive flooding in Louisiana should be aware of the hazards they may encounter and take necessary steps to stay safe. Thousands of residents, including seven OSHA employees, were displaced by the flooding. Only workers provided with the proper training, equipment and experience should conduct cleanup activities.
Cleanup work after the flooding may involve hazards related to restoring electricity, communications, and water and sewer services. Other hazards pertain to demolition activities; debris cleanup and removal; and structural, roadway and bridge repair; hazardous waste operations; and emergency response activities. OSHA maintains a comprehensive website to keep disaster site workers safe during storm cleanup and recovery operations.
“Recovery work should not put you in the hospital emergency room,” said Benjamin Ross, OSHA’s Acting regional administrator in Dallas. “A range of safety and health hazards exist following flooding. You may minimize these dangers with knowledge, safe work practices and personal protective equipment. OSHA wants to make certain that all working men and women, including volunteers, return home at the end of the workday.”
Only workers provided with the proper training, equipment and experience should conduct cleanup activities.
During cleanup, consider the following protective measures:
- Evaluate the work area for hazards.
- Employ engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards.
- Use personal protective equipment.
- Assume all power lines are live.
- Use portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles and other equipment properly.
- Heed safety precautions for traffic work zones.
Resources for more information:
In addition to teams at the affected areas, OSHA has many resources on https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/flood/index.html detailing how to stay safe in preparation of a flood and subsequent cleanup.
Individuals involved in recovery efforts may call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or its Baton Rouge Area Office at 225-298-5458. Residents can also contact the Louisiana On-site Consultation Program who can provide on-site assistance.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.