Safety in disaster restoration
Daniel Chute, CIH, CSP, Atrium Environmental. Health and Safety Services, gave an interesting presentation Monday afternoon about rebuilding homes after disaster strikes. He has been working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement safe practices in post-disaster restoration. He said inexperienced workers and volunteers who were not using proper PPE after disasters such as Hurricane Katrina led to the partnership and creation of a guide to safety when rebuilding.
Chute said many older homes and those in flooded areas had issues such as lead paint, asbestos and mold so workers had to be especially careful.
Some tips offered in the helpful guide include:
- Remind yourself often to put people before property.
- Wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including protective clothing and a NIOSH-approved respirator, every time you set foot in a damaged or moldy building.
- Assess structural stability and hidden hazards before you enter. A professional inspection may be needed.
- Control dust, capture debris and contain contaminants — with wet methods, drop cloths, debris bags, HEPA vacuums and workers trained in safe work practices.
- Assume lead-based paint and asbestos are in homes built before 1978 (unless verified not present). Be mindful that disturbing such materials increases the hazard.
- Always remove wet insulation and foam padding, even if the surface looks dry and clean.
More information and the full guide can be found at www.hud.gov.