As Hurricane Irene dissolves into a tropical storm as it spirals toward Canada and Washington D.C. recovers from an unusual earthquake, it is important to remember that it is not only the initial events that can cause injury or death. Often it is during the laborious clean-up and restoration process where workers can run into hazardous conditions.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a list of hazards that workers can encounter when working in the aftermath of a hurricane. NIOSH noted that “…Storm and flood cleanup activities can be hazardous. Workers and volunteers involved with flood cleanup should be aware of the potential dangers involved, and the proper safety precautions.”
Hurricanes bring with them high winds, rain, and foods that can lead to large-scale destruction to structures. This damage can also lead to the dispersal of dangerous materials across land and into flooded areas. As such, “Work-related hazards that could be encountered include: electrical hazards, Carbon Monoxide, musculoskeletal hazards, heat stress, motor vehicles, hazardous materials, fire, confined spaces and falls.”
Workers should be aware of these dangers as they engage in the brave work of clean up and repair. If you are a worker injured on the job, you should always seek medical care. You should then be prepared to contact an experienced lawyer at Emery Reddy to serve as your advocate through the Labor & Industries process.