News Release

Department of Labor urges Florida recovery workers, public to guard themselves against hazards amid flood cleanup

MIAMI – The U.S. Department of Labor reminds emergency responders and others working in rescue and recovery efforts as well as residents in areas flooded recently by intense rainfall to be vigilant and to protect themselves and avoid many hazards in a storm’s aftermath.

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminds everyone that recovery work must never come at the expense of someone’s safety and well-being,” said OSHA Southeast Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in Atlanta. “Flood recovery work presents numerous safety and health hazards — amid power loss, and water accumulation and saturation of building materials and electrical components — all of which can be minimized by being knowledgeable, following safe work practices and using personal protective equipment for debris removal.”

OSHA urges individuals engaged in recovery efforts to avoid, where possible, entering areas where there is standing water, especially in locations where there may be openings or depressions below the water surface that can pose a risk of serious injury or drowning.

Once destructive weather passes, workers are needed to restore electricity, communications, water and sewer services. These activities may also include removing standing floodwater from structures, performing demolition work, clearing debris, identifying and removing hazardous waste and taking other needed steps to respond.

People in these jobs typically face a wide range of hazards such as extreme heat, handling contaminated or otherwise unsafe materials and debris, carbon monoxide, electrocution risks associated with water-impacted electrical circuits and components and fall hazards related to debris removal or working at heights. 

Before beginning any recovery work, the agency encourages taking protective measures to include evaluating the work area for potential hazards, ensuring workers are appropriately trained to safely perform assigned tasks and verifying hazards are corrected and effectively controlled.

OSHA maintains a comprehensive site on keeping workers safe during flood cleanup and recovery operations, to include quick cards and fact sheets – available in English and Spanish. Individuals involved in response and recovery efforts may call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) for more information.

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Occupational Safety & Health Administration
June 14, 2024
Release Number
Media Contact: Eric R. Lucero
Phone Number
Media Contact: Erika Ruthman
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