HIOSH Reminds Workers and Public about Hurricane Hazards

"Recovery work should not put you in the recovery room," DLIR Director Leonard Hoshijo said. "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."

The Hawaii State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations' Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) has issued a reminder to recovery workers and residents to be aware of potential hazards that storm conditions and storm impacts might create or raise.

"Recovery work should not put you in the recovery room," DLIR Director Leonard Hoshijo said. "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 Hawaii recovers from Hurricane Lane.”

Cleanup work can involve a variety of activities, including demolition, removal of floodwater from structures, cleaning up debris, use of cranes and other heavy equipment, emergency response activities, and hazardous waste operations.

Inherent hazards related to hurricane recovery work can 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.

Recovery workers and residents should take protective measures, including evaluating the work area for hazards, task-specific hazard exposure monitoring, using engineering or work practice to controls to mitigate hazards, using personal protective equipment, following appropriate hygiene procedures, assuming all power lines are live, using appropriate precautions for traffic work zones, and using all equipment correctly.

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