U.S. Department of Labor Urges Caution to Avoid Hazards During Tornado and Storm Cleanup
KANSAS CITY, MO - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is urging employers, workers, and the public to be aware of the hazards that may exist while conducting cleanup work following the recent tornados in Kansas and Missouri.
After a tornado has occurred, as steps are taken to recover from the storm, workers may face significant hazards including the potential for additional storms, downed electric lines, and sharp debris. Employees should also be aware of hazards from heat stress and from equipment used during response/recovery operations, such as portable generators.
"OSHA teams are in the areas affected by recent tornadoes and they will remain onsite to help workers stay safe during the response and recovery operations," said OSHA Regional Administrator Kim Stille, in Kansas City, Missouri. "There are always hazards in these situations, but they can be minimized with safe work practices, knowledge, and the use of personal protective equipment."
Only workers provided with the proper training, equipment, and experience should conduct cleanup activities. Protective measures should always include the following:
- Evaluate work areas for hazards;
- Employ engineering or work practice controls to minimize hazards;
- Wear proper clothing and use personal protective equipment;
- Assume all power lines are live;
- Use portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles and other equipment properly;
- Follow safety precautions in traffic work zones;
- Use fall protection when working at heights over 4 feet.
OSHA's Response and Recovery page has additional information to assist in planning cleanup work safely.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.