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Keeping Workers Safe During Disaster Cleanup and Recovery

Natural disasters can cause widespread, unexpected damage to property and infrastructure. Cleanup and recovery activities involve hazards that can cause serious injuries or death. OSHA urges employers to be aware of these hazards and prepared to protect workers.

Based on initial assessment of hazards, employers need to provide workers with the appropriate personal protective equipment, training, and information to safely perform the work.

Take Advantage of OSHA's Resources

OSHA provides many Hurricane Recovery tools such as a Hurricane eMatrix with general recommendations, employer responsibilities, a sampling and monitoring summary, and a selection of activity sheets:

Employer Responsibilities

"Each employer is responsible for the safety and health of its workers and for providing a safe and healthful workplace for its workers. Employers are required to protect workers from the anticipated hazards associated with the response and recovery operations that workers are likely to conduct. As part of this effort, employers should evaluate each task and operation, identify the hazards associated with it, and establish the exposure controls necessary to adequately protect workers. Employers may accomplish this by developing a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) for each task that workers will conduct and establishing associated safety and health procedures and protocols that protect workers from the hazards identified. In developing their JHAs, employers should involve a team—ideally composed of safety and health professionals, the workers, and their supervisors—familiar with the work to be completed and the hazards associated with that work. Employers using this Matrix should share it with their workers. Employers are also responsible for maintaining logs and supplemental documentation for all recordable injury and illness cases when required by OSHA/State Plan Recordkeeping regulations. The OSHA Act and OSHA standards and regulations also include reporting requirements. For example, employers must report any fatal accident or one that results in the hospitalization of three or more workers to the nearest OSHA office within 8 hours. (See 29 CFR 1904.39 and OSHA Regional and Area Offices.) Each employer is also responsible for preserving, maintaining, and providing workers with access to worker exposure and medical records in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1020. mployers must tell workers and their representative where the records collected under this and other applicable standards (e.g., OSHA's comprehensive lead in construction standard 29 CFR 1926.62) will be located, how the data in the records will be communicated to workers, how the records will be maintained, and how to access the records."

The team at Safety Management Systems, Inc. is very saddened to hear about the damages caused by Hurricane Ian. We wish everyone the best in the push toward recovering and rebuilding.

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