How to Clean Up After a Hurricane
After a hurricane, listen to local broadcasts for up-to-date information on the storm. Return to work only when local authorities say it’s safe to do so.
Evaluate your worksite for hazards.
Following a hurricane, you may encounter these challenges:
- Electrical hazards
- Cut or laceration hazards
- Extreme heat
- Hazardous or infectious substances
See a full list of hazards, and how to respond to and evaluate them, on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s website.
If you do encounter hazards, address them before continuing work.
- Eliminate the problem wherever possible. For example, you should remove a fallen power line before working on anything else in the area.
- Get ahead of equipment-related injuries: You can do this by guarding the
“pinch points” on a piece of heavy equipment, or making sure the cab is temperature-controlled.
- Make sure your team is well-rested: Decrease the chances they’ll make a mistake on the job by giving them frequent breaks and making sure they’re getting the rest they need.
- Work in the daylight. This is especially true for high-hazard or unfamiliar tasks.
- Keep the workspace clean. Decontaminate equipment or personnel if they come into contact with contaminated floodwater or chemicals.
- Use the right personal protective equipment (PPE). Use PPE that’s appropriate for the task your team is working on. See more about how to select and use PPE here.
Make sure your team practices basic sanitation on the job.
You can reduce the risk of hazards and contaminants by employing basic safety, sanitation and good housekeeping practices. These include:
- Drinking safe water
- Washing hands before eating, drinking, smoking, and after using the restroom
- Using hand sanitizer when potable water isn’t available
- Not eating or drinking anything exposed to floodwaters, and not eating or drinking in an area that contains debris, floodwater or sludge
- Using bug repellent
- Promptly dealing with cuts and scrapes
See the full list of OSHA’s recommended hurricane work practices here.
Make sure your team brings the right personal gear.
In addition to PPE, employees should have gear that’s appropriate for the environment:
- Changes of clothing that fit the weather, location and assignment
- A flashlight with spare batteries
- A hat for sun and rain
- An extra pair of glasses or contacts, as well as sunglasses
Talk to a medical professional if needed.
OSHA recommends evaluating the work your team will do in a hurricane-impacted area. Then consult with a health care professional, who will:
- Determine whether medical exams are needed
- Conduct any necessary tests
- Perform vaccinations, if required
This checklist is not exhaustive. Familiarize yourself with OSHA standards for hurricane response work, as well as National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) guidelines.
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