Tornado cleanup exposes workers, public to hazards
As residents recover from the damage caused by the recent tornadoes and severe storms in Missouri and Kansas, OSHA is urging recovery workers, employers and the public to use caution during cleanup efforts. The agency urges all to be aware of hazards they may encounter, and steps needed to to stay safe and healthy.
OSHA resource officers are available in hard-hit areas to communicate with emergency responders in local communities, provide advice and distribute literature to assist in a safe clean-up of damage caused by recent storms in Oak Grove, Smithville, Carrollton and Mercer County, Missouri as well as Olathe, Kansas.
"Recovery work should not put you in the recovery room," said Karena Lorek, OSHA's area director in Kansas City. "Our main concern is the safety and health of the workers and volunteers conducting cleanup activities. Everyone should use personal protective equipment and implement safe work practices to protect themselves from hazards such as electrocution, struck-by, caught-in and other hazards. By utilizing protective measures employees and volunteers provide valuable assistance to those in need and return home safe and healthy to their families at the end of the day."
Protective measures should involve:
- Evaluating work areas for all hazards.
- Monitoring task-specific hazard exposure.
- Using engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards.
- Having and using personal protective equipment.
- Assuming all power lines are live.
- Following proper hygiene procedures.
- Using portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles and other equipment correctly.
- Creating traffic work zones.
OSHA maintains a comprehensive website on keeping disaster site workers safe during cleanup and recovery operations. It contains fact sheets, concise "quick cards," frequently asked questions, safety and health guides and information, public service announcements in English and Spanish, and links to information from other sources.