HR Management & Compliance

Train Workers on the Dangers After the Storm

Emergency preparedness training rightfully includes precautions and procedures to prevent injuries and damages during natural disasters. But what about training on safety procedures during cleanup operations after the storm?

Today’s Advisor presents the precautions your cleanup workers need to know.

Storm and tornado cleanup work can involve hazards relating to restoring electricity, communications, and water and services. Other hazards relate to demolition activities, cleaning up debris, roadway and bridge repair, hazardous waste operations, and tree trimming.

To keep workers performing these operations safe, train them to:

  • Assume all power lines are live unless you know otherwise, and keep a safe distance (at least 10 feet) away from them.
  • Wear proper clothing when walking on or near debris, including boots and gloves.
  • Be careful of sharp objects, such as nails and broken glass.
  • Take proper safety precautions when operating generators, chain saws, or other power tools.
  • Monitor local radio or television stations for emergency information and be aware of possible structural, electrical, or gas-leak hazards.
  • Exercise caution when entering any structure that has been damaged.

Is your workforce ready for an unexpected catastrophe, such as a natural disaster? BLR’s upcoming webinar, “Emergency Preparedness,” can help you get prepared. Find out more.

Flood cleanup also poses unique challenges, including dam and levee repair, removal of floodwater from structures, and repairing downed electrical wires in standing water. Those engaged in cleanup activities should be aware of the hazards associated with floodwaters, including rapidly rising water, strong currents, and more.

Train flood cleanup workers to:

  • Exercise caution when driving during flood conditions. Do not try to cross flooded roadways if you do not know the depth of the water—6 inches of standing water is enough to stall some cars, a foot of water can float a vehicle, and 2 feet of moving water is enough to sweep a car away.
  • Stay away from flooded areas that may be in contact with downed energized power lines or other sources of electricity.
  • Wear proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions because standing or working in water colder than 75 degrees Fahrenheit can result in hypothermia. Be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion.
  • Wear gloves, boots, and other appropriate protective clothing, and exercise good hygiene practices to protect yourself from potential chemical or biological hazards that may be present in floodwater.
  • Don’t work alone near floodwater and do wear Coast Guard–approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) to protect against drowning hazards. Even strong swimmers can be easily overcome by swiftly moving floodwater.

David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, commented, “Storm recovery efforts expose workers to a wide range of hazards, which can be mitigated by safe work practices and personal protective equipment.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminds employers that only workers provided with the proper training, equipment, and experience should conduct cleanup activities. In addition to the safety tips above, protective measures should involve evaluating the work area for hazards, employing engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards, using personal protective equipment, using all equipment properly, and paying attention to safety precautions for traffic work zones.

Mudslides, tsunamis, earthquakes! Is your workplace in danger of any of these—or any—other—natural disasters? Find out how to be prepared for unexpected catastrophes by attending BLR’s June 19 webinar, “Emergency Preparedness.” Sign up risk-free.

Expecting the Unexpected

A mighty magnitude 8.2 earthquake rocked Chile recently, triggering landslides, cutting power, and generating a tsunami. Weeks later, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake shook the Los Angeles area. Also recently, devastating mudslides decimated parts of Washington, claiming at least 42 lives, and powerful thunderstorms spawning tornadoes touched down in parts of the central United States.

The key takeaway: Natural disasters and other catastrophes can strike anywhere, at any time. It’s important, therefore, that your organization has a comprehensive emergency response-planning strategy in place at all times. If you wait for an unexpected and potentially devastating situation to arise, it’s too late, because without a plan for how to respond before a disaster strikes, you risk placing your workforce further in harm’s way.

Join us on June 19 when a seasoned attorney, who has helped many companies create, update, and improve emergency preparedness plans, will lay out a process to help you develop and implement a process that will ensure that your organization is ready to manage any contingency. Here are the details

Emergency Preparedness:
Response Planning Strategy Essentials to Manage Unexpected Catastrophes

Thursday, June 19, 2014

1:30 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern/10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Pacific

You and your colleagues will learn:

  • How best to perform a comprehensive assessment of potential natural risks
  • Proven strategies for establishing a planning team, including who should participate on it
  • The applicable OSHA regulations pertinent to an emergency preparedness plan
  • How best to evaluate the hazards that need to be considered based on the assessment
  • A detailed discussion of the basic elements to include in your plan
  • Recommendations on the business/organizational recovery strategies to consider and address
  • How best to ensure that all employees are accounted for, including those with limited abilities, during an event
  • Proven ways for training emergency personnel and ensuring that the training is kept up to date and drills are included in the process
  • How to best identify and evaluate third-party resources that might be useful in developing your emergency preparedness plan

Learn more and sign up here.

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