HIOSH Urges Safety During Hurricane Lane
The Hawai‘i State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations’ (DLIR) Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) today urged recovery workers and residents to be aware of potential hazards they might encounter with storm conditions and storm impacts.
“Recovery work should not put you in the recovery room,” said Leonard Hoshijo, DLIR director. “Storm recovery work involves a wide range of safety and health hazards, which can be minimized by knowledge, safe work practices and personal protective equipment. HIOSH wants to make certain that no casualties result from cleanup operations. We are especially concerned in light of the increase in industrial accidents this year, that recovery efforts not lead to injuries or fatalities as Hawai‘i recovers from Hurricane Lane.”
Cleanup work can involve restoring electricity, communications, water and sewer services; demolition activities; removal of floodwater from structures; entry into flooded areas; cleaning up debris; tree trimming; structural, roadway, bridge, dam and levee repair; use of cranes, aerial lifts and other heavy equipment; hazardous waste operations; and emergency response activities.
Inherent hazards may include illness from exposure to contaminated water or food, exposure to the elements and heat stress, downed electrical wires, carbon monoxide and electrical hazards from portable generators, fall and “struck-by” hazards from tree trimming or working at heights, being caught in unprotected excavations or confined spaces, burns, lacerations, musculoskeletal injuries, being struck by traffic or heavy equipment, and drowning from being caught in moving water or while removing water from flooded structures.
Protective measures should involve evaluating the work area for all hazards; task-specific hazard exposure monitoring; utilizing engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards; using personal protective equipment; assuming all power lines are live; following proper hygiene procedures; using portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles and other equipment correctly; and utilizing proper precautions for traffic work zones.
OSHA maintains a comprehensive website on keeping disaster site workers safe during hurricane and storm cleanup and recovery operations. It contains fact sheets, concise “quick cards,” frequently asked questions, safety and health guides, and additional information. Information on protecting oneself against heat stress while working outdoors is available online.
Additionally, a checklist of activities to be undertaken before, during and after a hurricane is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency online.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. HIOSH’’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.