Keeping Workers Safe During Flood Clean Ups
It is very likely that many of you, our policyholders, have been impacted by this week's flooding. As employers, you may naturally be asking your employees to assist in cleaning up as the water recedes. Clean up work by its nature is hazardous and most employees, though willing, may not be prepared for the clean up and not trained to recognize the hazards they will face. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) requires employers to comply with hazard-specific safety and health standards. In addition, pursuant to the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Emergency Preparedness Guidelines do not and cannot enlarge or diminish an employer's obligations under the OSH Act. As always, please contact The Beacon Mutual’s Loss Prevention department if you have questions.
Some of the hazards associated with working in flooded and recently flooded areas include:
- Electrical hazards
- Carbon monoxide
- Musculoskeletal hazards
- Thermal stresses
- Heavy equipment operation
- Structural instability
- Hazardous materials
- Hypothermia due to the cold weather and water exposure
- Falls from heights
- Burns from fires caused by energized line contact or equipment failure
- Exhaustion from working extended shifts
Below are flood safety resources from the RI Department of Health, US EPA and OSHA. Feel free to share them with any policyholders you know to be or suspect to have been impacted by flooding.
RI DOH - HEALTH Issues Safety Reminders for First Responders During Flood Response Activities
US EPA - most useful as a mold resource
OSHA - Flooding (describes worker hazards faced during floods and clean up)
At Beacon Mutual, we are dedicated to making workplaces safer. A safer workplace reduces claims and in turn lowers premiums. This is The Beacon Mutual Service Advantage - unparalleled service at no additional cost. Please call our Loss Prevention department at (401) 825-2667 to arrange for a loss prevention or ergonomic consultation.