back to OSHA Safety and Health Topics

For more information on protecting workers during Hurricane Sandy recovery, please click here.

Preparedness

Introduction Preparedness Response/Recovery OSHA Resources Additional Resources

Planning

It is important to have an evacuation plan in place to ensure that workers can get to safety in case a hurricane may affect the area. A thorough evacuation plan should include:

  • Conditions that will activate the plan

  • Chain of command

  • Emergency functions and who will perform them

  • Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and exits

  • Procedures for accounting for personnel, customers and visitors

  • Equipment for personnel

Some businesses are required to have an Emergency Action Plan meeting the requirements under 29 CFR 1910.38, see Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool for more information. Ready.gov - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has more information on evacuation plans as well as suggestions for precautions to take if you are unable to evacuate and do not have a safe room.

In addition to having evacuation plans in place, it is important to be familiar with the warning terms used for hurricanes, as well as your local community's emergency plans, warning signals, and shelters.  Hurricane/Tropical Storm watches mean that a hurricane or tropical storm is possible in the specified area. Hurricane/Tropical Storm warnings mean that a hurricane or tropical storm is expected to reach the area, typically within 24 hours.

Be prepared to follow instructions from the local authorities and to evacuate if instructed to do so.

The table below provides more information about the 5 categories in the Saffir-Simpson scale, which is used to describe the strength of a hurricane. The table includes the wind speeds and likely damage impacts for a hurricane in each category.

Scale Number
(Category)

Sustained Winds
(MPH)

Damage

1

74-95

Minimal: Unanchored mobile homes,
vegetation and signs.

2

96-110

Moderate: All mobile homes, roofs,
small crafts, flooding.

3

111-130

Extensive: Small buildings, low-lying
roads cut off.

4

131-155

Extreme: Roofs destroyed, trees
down, roads cut off, mobile homes
destroyed. Beach homes flooded.

5

More than 155

Catastrophic: Most buildings
destroyed. Vegetation destroyed.
Major roads cut off. Homes flooded.

Equipping

Training and Exercises

  • Ensure that all workers know what to do in case of an emergency.

  • Practice evacuation plans on a regular basis.

  • Update plans and procedures based on lessons learned from exercises.

OSHA's Disaster Site Worker Outreach Training Program is a training program for workers who provide skilled support services (e.g., utility, demolition, debris removal, or heavy equipment operation) or site clean-up services. The program highlights the differences between disaster sites and construction sites, and emphasizes the need for workers and employers to have pre-incident training.

Additional Resources


Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.


Hurricane Preparedness and Response - Copyright WARNING: Not all images on this Web site were created by the federal government. Some images may be the copyrighted property of others and used by the DOL under a license. Such content generally is accompanied by a copyright notice. It is your responsibility to obtain any necessary permission from the owner's of such material prior to making use of it. You may contact the DOL for details on specific content, but we cannot guarantee the copyright status of such items. Please consult the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress  http://www.copyright.gov  to search for copyrighted materials.


Plan, Equip, Train, Exercise


Know the Warning Signs


Stay Informed