OSHA Urges Hazard Awareness in Wake of Hurricane Idalia

Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas were all affected by the storm.

September 6, 2023

Via a recent news brief, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) urged response crews and residents of the states affected by Hurricane Idalia to be aware of the hazards involved in after-storm cleanup efforts.

Last week, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas experienced flooding, power loss, structural damage, fallen trees, and debris due to the storm, which made landfall on Florida’s west coast as a Category 4 hurricane. According to OSHA, storm recovery efforts could involve hazards related to restoring electricity and communications, removing debris, repairing water damage, repairing or replacing roofs, and trimming trees.

OSHA suggests that only individuals with proper training, equipment, and experience should conduct such recovery and cleanup activities. Protective measures after a weather disaster should include the following:

  • Evaluating the work area for hazards
  • Assessing the stability of structures and walking surfaces
  • Ensuring fall protection when working from elevated surfaces
  • Assuming all power lines are live
  • Operating chainsaws, portable generators, ladders, and other equipment properly
  • Using personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, hard hats, hearing, foot, and eye protection.

“The risk of injuries and fatalities during storm cleanup can be minimized with knowledge, safe work practices, and appropriate personal protective equipment,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA Regional Administrator in Atlanta. “Our safety professionals are available to assist anyone with questions on how to reduce exposure to hazards in the wake of this catastrophic storm.”

OSHA offers a comprehensive website with safety tips to help employers and workers, including an alert on keeping workers safe during flood cleanup. For more information and assistance, individuals involved in response and recovery efforts can call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

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