In the wake of the devastation caused in South Carolina by Hurricane Joaquin, The United States

Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has advised residents and

emergency workers in South Carolina of the hazards present. These warnings, however, do not

only apply to South Carolina, they apply to all locations where major, catastrophic storms can


“Recovery work should not put you in the hospital emergency room,” said Kurt Petermeyer,

OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta. “A range of safety and health hazards exist following

storms. You may minimize these dangers with knowledge, safe work practices and personal

protective equipment. OSHA wants to make certain that all working men and women, including

volunteers, return home at the end of the workday.”

To help prevent injury during storm recovery and cleanup, the following measures should be

taken: evaluate the work area for hazards; employ engineering or work practice controls to

mitigate hazards; use personal protective equipment; assume all power lines are alive; use

portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles, and other equipment properly; and heed safety

precautions for traffic work zones.

If your business is involved in storm recovery, or if any of your employees help in storm

recovery, it is imperative you have policies and procedures in place to ensure these basic steps

are in place to protect your employees. If you do not, it could lead to serious injuries to your

employees and serious fines from OSHA. If you are having trouble implementing these policies

and procedures, please contact a qualified third party occupational safety and health auditing

firm to assist.

If you have any questions about these warnings from OSHA or about how they could impact

your company, please contact us. If you have anything to add about the importance of

safeguarding against hazards during disaster cleanup, please leave a comment.