For those of you that don’t know, I recently changed jobs and now work in New Orleans, LA. On February 7th an EF3 tornado barreled its way through our facility. With winds over 130 mph, we were lucky to only have 5 minor injuries on the entire facility. This was no joke and I now have greater respect for these types of storms. Now we are past our emergency response phase and well into our recovery phase. We have significant damage in several areas. Today’s article is from OSHA and gives some great tips for those of you that might have to do some kind of emergency clean up. I pray that you never have to encounter a storm of this magnitude but keeping you and your employees save is the first step. Feel free to print and post in your work areas as this is directly from OSHA.
In the aftermath of a tornado, workers may be involved in a variety of response and recovery operations. The following are general guidelines that may be applicable to workers involved in assessing and/or cleaning up the damage to their worksite. However, some operations, such as utility restoration, cleaning up spills of hazardous materials, and search and rescue, should only be conducted by workers who have the proper training, equipment and experience.
Response and recovery work in tornado-impacted areas presents safety and health hazards that should be properly identified, evaluated, and controlled in a systematic manner to reduce or eliminate occupational safety and health risks to response and recovery workers. Some of the specific hazards associated with working in the aftermath of tornadoes include:
- Hazardous driving conditions due to slippery and/or blocked roadways
- Slips and falls due to slippery walkways
- Falling and flying objects such as tree limbs and utility poles
- Sharp objects including nails and broken glass
- Electrical hazards from downed power lines or downed objects in contact with power lines
- Falls from heights
- Burns from fires caused by energized line contact or equipment failure
- Exhaustion from working extended shifts
- Heat and Dehydration.
- Continue to monitor your local radio or television stations for emergency information and the potential of additional storms. Be aware of possible structural, electrical, or gas-leak hazards.
- If such hazards are identified, report them to the proper local authorities and/or utility.
- Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed power lines.
- Wear proper clothing when walking on or near debris, including boots and gloves.
- Be careful around sharp objects, including nails and broken glass.
- Use the proper safety precautions when operating generators, chainsaws, or other power tools.
- Take steps to prevent heat illnesses and dehydration.
See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for additional precautions to take after a tornado.