U.S. Department of Labor Urges Employers and Workers to Keep an Eye out for Hazards following Hurricane Nicholas

Unsafe work conditions due to a southern hurricane call for extra safety precautions.

OSHA urges response crews and residents in Texas in areas affected by Hurricane Nicholas to recognize hazards created by flooding, power loss, structural damage, fallen trees and storm debris. Response and recovery crews should keep an eye out for hazards when restoring electricity, removing debris, repairing water damage, repairing or replacing roofs and trimming trees. Only workers with proper experience, training and equipment should partake in recovery and cleanup activities.

According to a press release, those involved in response and recovery should:

  • Evaluate the work area for hazards.
  • Assess the stability of structures and walking surfaces.
  • Ensure fall protection is used when working on elevated surfaces.
  • Assume all power lines are live.
  • Keep portable generators outside.
  • Never attach a generator directly to the electrical system of a structure unless a qualified electrician has installed a transfer switch for the generator.
  • Operate chainsaws, ladders and other equipment properly.
  • Use PPE, such as gloves, hard hats, hearing protection, foot and eye safeguards.
  • Have plenty of drinking water available, use sunscreen and take frequent rest breaks in shaded areas. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing

“Workers entering areas after severe weather must be prepared to do their jobs and help clean up and restore services safely,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Eric Harbin in Dallas. “Employers must follow safe work practices, provide training on worksite hazards and ensure the use of appropriate personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of injuries.”

OSHA has a webpage on hurricane preparedness and response with safety tips to help employers and employees, including an alert on keeping workers safe during flood cleanup. Individuals involved in response and recovery efforts can contact OSHA here.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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